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This Week in NCHA

College Hockey:
Time for drama as the NCHA comes down to talented foursome

snc group Time for drama as the NCHA comes down to talented foursome

St. Norbert looks to score early and often this weekend against Lake Forest in an NCHA semifinal (photo: St. Norbert College Athletics).

The four top-seeded teams earned their way to the NCHA Harris Cup playoffs semifinals, some of them in more dramatic fashion than others.

Let’s recap:

Quarterfinals

St. Norbert swept Lawrence in the quarterfinal round in a convincing fashion. On Friday night, the Green Knights shut out the Vikings 5-0 as junior goaltender David Jacobson earned his sixth shutout of the season.

On Saturday night, the top-seeded Green Knights claimed their spot in the Harris Cup semifinals, downing the Vikings 3-1. Junior defenseman Marian Fiala had a goal and an assist in the contest. Fiala contributed a pair of assists in Friday’s game as well.

The second-seeded Adrian Bulldogs posted a shutout on Friday night against old MCHA rival, the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Junior forward Shelby Gray tallied two goals in the 3-0 win.

Junior forward Josh Ranalli notched two goals for the Bulldogs in Saturday’s game. The 4-1 victory cleared a spot in the Harris Cup semis for Adrian.

Marian earned its first postseason win in three seasons on Friday night as the Sabres downed fourth-seeded Lake Forest 3-2. The Sabres scored a goal in each period. Lake Forest, who was the host of the quarterfinal series, tried third-period heroics, but their two goals were not enough.

Senior goaltender Josh Baker made an outstanding 44 saves for the Sabres.

On Saturday, the Foresters battled to a 3-2 overtime win. Marian freshman forward Jacob Ryd scored the game-tying goal with 5:56 left in regulation. Junior forward Jason McAloon scored the overtime goal for Lake Forest, sending the teams to a 20-minute mini-game to decide who would move on to the Harris Cup semifinals.

Sophomore defenseman Ben Certo scored the lone goal in the mini-game, extending the Foresters’ season past the weekend.

There was less than six minutes left in regulation when freshman forward Derek Sutliffe scored to give St. Scholastica a 1-0 win over Concordia (Wis.), as sophomore goaltender Tyler Bruggeman earned his first shutout of the season.

On Saturday night, the Saints put together a 9-4 win, matching their season-high goal output from Jan. 31 when they beat Northland 9-2. Senior forward Brandon Nowakowski caught the hat trick, helping his team get to the Harris Cup semifinal round.

Semifinals

Fourth-seed Lake Forest will travel to top-seed St. Norbert, while third-seed St. Scholastica makes the trip to second-seed Adrian.

The semifinals are single-game elimination, with the winner in each game heading to the Harris Cup final on March 8.

Lake Forest and St. Norbert played a home-and-home series earlier this season. The Green Knights held the Foresters to just two goals as they won 9-1 and 4-1.

Adrian traveled to St. Scholastica in January. The first game of the series saw the two talented teams end in a 1-1 overtime tie. The second game of the series again saw overtime, with the Bulldogs getting the 4-3 victory.

All in all, it has been an action-packed Harris Cup playoffs and I imagine the semifinals will be no different.

Stay tuned next week for an in-depth look at the Harris Cup championship contest.


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