All three respective D-III Western Region conference favorites — Adrian, St. Norbert and Hamline — were upset last weekend, which always makes pundits wonder how they will respond the following week, if not the remaining season.
Like a claims adjustor, the first task was to assess the damage: were they substantial losses so seismic in scope as to require a rebuild, or merely dings in what otherwise are well-tuned machines?
In Adrian, the earth seemed to shake after the Bulldogs lost 5-4 to Marian last Saturday, snapping the school’s 65-game winning streak, which had reached an NCAA-record 56 games in Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association play.
The victory moved Marian (4-1) to No. 15 in the rankings. Adrian (1-1), which beat its MCHA rival 7-3 on Friday, moved from No. 10 to No. 12.
“Most definitely (we’re) not looking at things we should have done differently,” Adrian Coach Ron Fogarty said. “(Marian) did things to create their opportunities.
“Everybody recognizes we can score goals. We just have to do a better job in our defensive zone…It’s great to catch it this early.”
St. Norbert, which was a preseason favorite to repeat as Northern Collegiate Hockey Association champs, bounced back from the jolt of a 4-3 loss to then-No. 15 Hamline on Friday with a 3-2 win over Bethel on Saturday. The weekend split didn’t knock the Green Knights (3-1) from their No. 3 perch.
“We don’t lose two in a row too terribly often,” St. Norbert Coach Tim Coghlin said. “That’s something we try to instill in our players.
“That’s the character of your guys and them understanding the history of the program and how important it is to be prepared to play.”
Against Hamline, the team trailed 4-1 for 59 minutes before pulling two goals back with goalie B.J. O’Brien removed for six skaters in the last minute. Freshman netminder Mike Martin started in the 3-2 victory over Bethel on Saturday.
“(Martin) did his part and we got some new guys some action,” Coghlin said.
Hamline, which was the preseason pick to claim the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crown, saw its stock rise despite a weekend split where the Pointers were humbled at home by a surging Wisconsin-Stevens Point outfit, 5-1, on Saturday. The nonconference victory moved previously unranked UW-Stevens Point (4-1) to No. 10 ahead of No. 11 Hamline (3-1), which moved up from No. 15.
Five different Pointers scored, with freshman Alex Handy converting the game-winner with five minutes left in the first period. UW-Stevens Point goalie Goalie Nick Graves turned away 32 shots.
Senior Chris Berenguer replied for the Pipers, who appeared shell-shocked after the previous night’s impressive win over St. Norbert.
“We emptied our tank against St. Norbert’s, which was a tough team to beat,” Hamline coach Scott Bell said. “That was an absolute war and a great game.
“Then we played some younger people the next night and their goalie made key saves when it counted and our guy didn’t. We learned a lot about our team. With the St. Norbert’s win, we know we can beat any team in the country.”
Players of the week:
Zak Borowski, Lake Forest College: The sophomore forward opened the Foresters’ account this season by scoring both game-winning goals in the team’s weekend sweep of Finlandia, 6-5 and 5-1. The 5-foot-10 and 175-pound Gloucester, Mass., product has seven career goals in 27 games played.
Harrison Niemann, UW-Stevens Point: The junior forward’s two goals and two assists lifted the red-hot Pointers to victories over Bethel, 2-0, and No. 11 Hamline, 5-1, which vaulted UW-Stevens Point to No. 10 in the national rankings. The Canton, Mich. native has 13 goals and 16 assists in 41 career games.
Player of the Week selection starts next week.