Picking the championship final

It’s here – the 2015 national title game.

So who hoists the hardware at the end of Saturday night?

Only one of our columnists will get bragging rights later this evening.

Dan Hickling

Trinity 5, Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4

The Bantams bring the championship back East for the first time in five years.

Brian Lester

Wisconsin-Stevens Point 5, Trinity 4

Stevens Point will finish the job it started and win the national title.

Tournament semifinals picks

Will Wisconsin-Stevens Point be celebrating this weekend? (photo: Ryan Coleman/d3photography.com).

Who gets to the men’s Division III Frozen Four?

Dan and Brian have ideas…

Brian Lester

Adrian (24-3-3) vs. Trinity (23-3-1): The Bulldogs and Bantams have never met on the ice. The Bulldogs have won 12 consecutive games and are the hottest team in the nation. They are in the final four for the first time since 2011 and feature a high-powered attack that cranks out nearly five goals per game (4.77). The Bantams are in the national semifinals for the first time since 2005 and have lost only once in their last 10 games. They average more than four goals per game (4.26) and allow less than two (1.78). I’m going with the hot team. Adrian, 5-4.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point (22-6-1) vs. Amherst (22-4-2): Stevens Point was the national runner-up a year ago and wants to finish the job this time. The Pointers are in the final four for the eighth time in program history and have never lost a national semifinal game. Stevens Point is cranking out 4.34 goals per outing. The Jeffs come in allowing only two goals per game and will look to use their defense to their advantage. They have won eight consecutive games. The Pointers are on a mission and I like their odds in this one. Stevens Point, 3-2.

Dan Hickling

Trinity 4, Adrian 2 – Bantams rule the roost for another day … at least.

Amherst 1, Wisconsin-Stevens Point 0 – Does Lord Jeffs’ goalie Danny Vitale have one more shutout in him? The view here is yes.

Quarterfinal wrap – four teams advance

Brandon Jaeger made 25 saves as Wisconsin-Stevens Point knocked off Hamline in an NCAA quarterfinal on Saturday (photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com).

Adrian moved one step closer to a national championship Saturday night, holding off fourth-ranked Oswego State 5-4 in a thrilling quarterfinal showdown at the Arrington Ice Arena.

The second-ranked Bulldogs are headed to the final four for the first time since 2011 when they finished as the national runner-up. Their next challenge is Trinity in a national semifinal showdown Friday night in Minneapolis.

Adrian won its 12th consecutive game and ended the Lakers’ streak of five consecutive final four appearances.

“I’m extremely proud of our boys and how they battled and came together to get it done,” Adrian coach Adam Krug said in a story on the school website. “It wasn’t pretty at times but at the end of the day that was a great hockey game.”

The Bulldogs went in front for good in the second period on a goal by Ryan Lowe. It came just over a minute after Mathew Thompson tied the score at 2-2. Lowe punched in his ninth goal and Thompson scored his 20th.

Rob Heath’s third-period goal, his fifth of the season, gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead. Daniel Lisi and Kyle Brothers also scored goals for Adrian, which improved to 24-3-3. The goal by Brothers was his 24th of the season. Lisi scored just his fourth goal of the year.

Scott Shackell came up big between the pipes, making 31 saves. Two years ago against the Lakers, he tallied 52 saves in a quarterfinal loss. Shackell has won 18 games this season.

Adrian last lost a game Feb. 23 when it suffered a stunning 3-0 loss to Finlandia. The Bulldogs have scored at least three goals in every game since then and will head into the final four riding a tidal wave of momentum.

A year ago, Wisconsin-Stevens Point fell short in its quest to win a national title, finishing as the runner-up to St. Norbert.

The Pointers stayed on track to make up for that shortcoming after knocking off Hamline 4-2 Saturday in a quarterfinal showdown at K.B. Willett Arena.

Stevens Point will battle Amherst Friday in a national semifinal in Minneapolis.

The Pointers took control early on goals by Joe Kalisz and Kevin Gibson, Kalisz assisted on the goal by Gibson as the Pointers surged in front 2-0.

Hamline, one of the great stories of the year in college hockey, didn’t go down without a fight, slicing the Stevens Point lead to 2-1 in the third on a goal by Garrett Schmitz.

But Lawrence Cornellier scored twice in the third period, sandwiching his two goals around one by the Pipers’ Kerry McGlynn, to finish off the win. Cornellier pushed his goal total to 12 on the year.

The Pointers (22-6-1) are headed to the national semifinals for the eighth time in program history.

Goalie Brandon Jaeger, instrumental to the Pointers’ success all season, racked up 25 saves. It was his 22nd win of the year and the 61st of his career, tying Todd Chin for the most wins in program history.

Joe Rubbelke scored a goal for the Pipers and goalie John Sellie-Hanson made 35 saves.

Hamline (14-11) saw its remarkable run come to an end.

The Pipers won the MIAC tournament championship this year and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, highlighting an impressive turnaround under first-year head coach Cory Laylin. The Pipers had won only three games the previous two seasons.

Trinity erupted for four goals in the third period and put away Plattsburgh, 5-1 in an NCAA quarterfinal clash staged at the Koeppel Community Sports Center Saturday.

Elie Brewer scored twice in that decisive stanza, which Tim Shea and Jackson Brewer also tallied. For Brewer, it was his second goal of the game, having also opened the scoring at 18:52 of the first period with a successful penalty shot attempt after having been tripped by Cardinal defender Brandon Beadow while on a clear breakaway.

The Bantams, who last appeared in the Frozen Four in 2008, will meet Adrian Friday in one semifinal tilt at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Bantams’ goalie Nathaniel Heilbron stopped 40 Plattsburgh shots, but lost his shutout bid with less than two seconds remaining in the game when Connor Toomey tallied for the Cards.

Mike Rowbotham’s unassisted goal with 8:12 gone in overtime lifted Amherst to a dramatic 4-3 NCAA quarterfinal win over Norwich, and secured the Lord Jeffs a Frozen Four berth for the first time since 2012.

Amherst will face Wisconsin-Stevens Point Saturday in a semifinal contest to be staged at Ridder.

Rowbotham’s tally, his ninth of the season, was of the flukey variety, having come on a deflection off of the stick of a Cadets’ defender following a faceoff in the Norwich end.

Rowbotham was attempting to make a cross-ice pass when it took the crucial hop and caromed past Norwich goalie Ty Reichenbach.

It was the final twist in a contest full of them.

Norwich held three one-goal leads, but was unable to hang on to any of them.

The Cadets’ final lead came when William Pelletier scored at 18:09 of the third period to make it 3-2.

However, after Jeffs’ goalie Danny Vitale had been pulled for an extra attacker, Aaron Deutsch capped a furious comeback effort by scoring the tying goal with 13 seconds remaining in regulation.

That set the stage for Rowbotham’s game-winner.

Weekend wrap – first round action

Oswego defenseman Bobby Gertsakis scored in the Lakers’ opening-round win against Hobart last Saturday (photo: Dan Hickling).

Three preliminary games were played this past weekend to kick off the men’s Division III national tournament.

Oswego 6, Hobart 1 – A Laker win was no surprise, but the lopsided margin of it certainly was. Clutching a slim, 1-0 lead after the first period, Oswego blew the doors off the cooler early in the second with a trio of tallies – from Matt Galati, Kenny Neil and Bobby Gertsakis. Galati scored again in the third when the Lakers sealed the result. Oswego goalie Matt Zawadzki turned aside 33 shots, 15 of them in the final stanza when the Statesmen made a concerted comeback effort. Oswego will now travel to Adrian for Saturday’s quarterfinal clash.

Trinity 4, Nichols 2 – Upset victims in NESCAC tourney, the Bantams suffered no such ambush here as they built up a 3-0 second period lead (Anthony Sabitsky, Ben Hjalmarsson, Greg Rooney). Nichols replied late in the second with a pair of Sean Fleming goals, but Trinity held on in the third for the win. The Bantams will host SUNYAC champion Plattsburgh on Saturday.

Norwich 3, Plymouth State 2 – A No. 1 ranking didn’t guarantee Norwich an easy time in their NCAA tournament opener. In fact it’s fair to say that the Cadets simply outlasted PSU. The Panthers struck first on a goal by Mike Economos 2:23 into the contest. Norwich replied later in the period with goals by William Pelletier and Austin Surowiec. Pelletier scored again in the third to make it 3-1, but with 4:28 remaining, Plymouth’s Ian McGilvrey tallied to make it a one-goal game again. The Cadets, behind goalie Ty Reichenbach, were able to hold on from there. Norwich will visit Amherst for the quarterfinal on Saturday.

Pickin’ the NCAA first round

Nichols goalie Alex Larson was stellar in the regular season and will need to keep it up during the NCAA tournament (photo: Dan Hickling).

With the NCAA Division III men’s tournament starting this weekend with three first-round games, Dan and Brian try to look to late Saturday night and see who the winners of those games will be.


Oswego @ Hobart – Oswego 4, Hobart 2. The Lakers are tourney tested and have five straight Frozen Four appearances to offer as proof. That’s where the edge lies. Hobart has experience, too, as upperclassmen make up the top four of its scoring list.

Plymouth State @ Norwich – Norwich 3, Plymouth 1. The Cadets are ranked first in the country for good reason.

Nichols @ Trinity – Trinity 2, Nichols 1. The Bantams have had two weeks to dwell on their unexpected conference ouster. And a fortnight to fix whatever led to it.


No. 10 Hobart (21-6) vs. No. 4 Oswego (18-4-4): Hobart is hot, winning its last 10, and its 21 wins is tied for the most in school history. The Statesmen have scored 104 goals and have given up 64. Bo Webster leads the way with eight goals and 17 assists. Oswego has made six consecutive appearances in the final four and already beat Hobart once this year, winning 5-4 on Jan. 9. Shawn Hulshof leads the Lakers with 19 goals and 21 assists. This is a tough call, but I’m giving the edge to the Lakers in a close one. Oswego, 4-3.

No. 7 Trinity (21-3-1) vs. No. 14 Nichols (21-3-3): Trinity won six consecutive games before falling to Tufts in an NESCAC tournament quarterfinal. The Bantams lead the all-time series 16-7 and are in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in program history. Trinity is led by league player of the year Ryan Cole, who has racked up 14 goals and 21 assists. What will be interesting is to see how the Bantams handle their extended layoff as they haven’t played since Feb. 28.

The Bison has momentum on its side, winning five in a row, and is coming off a 3-0 win over Salve Regina in the ECAC Northeast tournament title game. Nichols hasn’t lost in its last 11 games overall and is led by Frank Butler, who has punched in 20 goals. Alex Larson was the ECAC Northeast Goaltender of the Year and the most outstanding player in the league tournament. Larson leads in the nation in save percentage (.952) and has won 18 games. Although Nichols is playing on the road, I think the Bison will get the job done. Nichols, 4-2.

No. 1 Norwich (24-3-1) vs. Plymouth State (16-8-3): The top-ranked Cadets are coming off their 17th consecutive ECAC regular season title and its first ECAC East tourney title since 2012. Norwich has won 11 tourney titles overall and is playing in its 16th NCAA tournament. William Pelletier leads the Cadets with 38 points, including 14 goals, and is third in the country in points per game. Goalies Ty Reichenbach and Braeden Ostepchuk have split time, with Reichenbach winning 14 games.

The Panthers have won 10 of their last 11 games and feature the MASCAC Player of the Year in Andrew Wigg, who has racked up 36 points, including 17 goals. Plymouth State won its second MASCAC tournament championship last week and is in the NCAA tourney for only the second time in program history. Its last appearance was in 2012. The Panthers rank 10th in the country in scoring offense and Gordon Ceasar has done a tremendous job in goal, winning 15 games. The Cadets won the regular season meeting 9-1 and should have similar results this time around. Norwich, 7-4.

Weekend wrap: Nine teams win conference playoff titles

Tanner Milliron helped Wisconsin-River Falls to a WIAC playoff championship last weekend (photo: Kathy M Helgeson).

Nine championship games.

Nine champions crowned.

That was the name of this past weekend across men’s Division III hockey.

ECAC EAST – It took a three-goal rally featuring Nick Pichette’s overtime game-winner, but defending East champion Norwich managed to pull out a 3-2 victory over Babson to take its first league tournament crown since 2012. Pichette’s goal came at 1:24 of the extra session, and snapped a deadlock that lasted since the first period when Dean Niezgoda scored twice for the Cadets to erase a 2-0 Babson lead. Norwich will go on to host Plymouth State in Saturday’s NCAA tourney first-rounder.

ECAC NORTHEAST – No. 1 seed Nichols successfully defended its Northeast championship by downing Salve Regina 3-0. Bison sniper Frank Butler scored late in the second period (his 20th), while Daniel Bufis and Sean Swanson added insurance markers in the third. Nichols goalie Alex Larson, owner of the nation’s top save percentage (.951) stopped all 46 Salve salvos to record his sixth shutout of the season (and ninth of his career). The Bison will make their second consecutive NCAA appearance Saturday at Trinity.

ECAC WEST – It took a whopping 68 shots on goal to do it, but top-seed Hobart captured its second West league tourney in three years with a 2-1 overtime win over Neumann. Sean Rudy’s tally at 11:31 of extra time settled the affair, which saw Knights’ goalie Ben Curley pull off a massive 66-save effort in a losing cause. Hobart received an at-large NCAA bid and will host SUNYAC runnerup Oswego on Saturday.

MASCAC – “Panther Power” prevailed in a big way Saturday as top-seed Plymouth State rolled over No. 2 Salem, 6-2. Josh Woody led the Panthers’ 42-shot attack with a pair of goals – Nos. 12 and 13 – while goaltender Gordon Ceasar stopped 24 shots to record his 15th win. Plymouth, which is making its second-ever NCAA appearance (2012), will travel to Norwich Saturday.

MIAC – The Pipers are headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 after taking down the Cardinals 4-2 in front of a sold-out crowd on the road Saturday.

Brandon Zurn fueled the attack, scoring twice, while Charlie Adams and Chad Hennum punched in goals as well as Hamline improved to 14-10-4 under first-year head coach Cory Laylin. Winning this game wasn’t easy. Hamline had to rally twice to prevail, trailing 1-0 and 2-1 before taking control.

Adams’ goal tied the score at 2-2 in the second and third-period goals by Zurn and Hennum capped a MIAC tourney run in which the Pipers won two road games, including a semifinal showdown with defending champion St. Thomas. Hennum’s goal was an empty-netter with 31 seconds remaining.

John Sellie-Hanson made 28 saves for Hamline and Phil Heinle tallied 25 saves for St. Mary’s, which came in looking for its first NCAA tournament bid in 20 years. Nick Albergo and Bob Kinne both scored for St. Mary’s, which ends its season at 15-10-2. The Cardinals’ 15 wins is the most since they went 15-11-1 during the 1996-97 campaign.

NCHA – For the sixth time in program history, Adrian is the Harris Cup champion. The second-ranked Bulldogs won the title with a 4-2 win over St. Norbert Saturday at Arrington Ice Arena, punching a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Kyle Brothers scored his 23rd goal of the season in a game where Adrian never trailed. The two teams were tied at 1-1 after a goal by the Green Knights’ Pijus Rulevicius but Mathew Thompson came up his with his 21st goal of the year to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.

Ryan Gieseler and Chris Leone also scored for the Bulldogs, who improved to 23-3-3 and defeated the fifth-ranked Green Knights for the third time this season. Leone scored at the 19:04 mark on an empty-net goal, which came after a 30-minute delay in the game because a pane of glass was shattered in front of the scorer’s booth.

Brothers was named the MVP of the conference tournament. He finished with three goals and six assists in four games.

Thompson, Gieseler and Josh Ranalli earned all-tourney honors for the Bulldogs as well. Ranalli tallied seven assists in the tournament, including two in the title game, while Thompson finished with five goals and three assists in four games. Gieseler finished with two goals and a plus-two rating during the playoffs.

Adrian goalie Scott Shackell made 22 saves and won his 17th game of the season.

The Green Knights are 20-6-2 and will have to hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if they want a shot to win a second consecutive national championship.

Marian Fiala scored a goal for the Green Knights and earned a spot on the all-tournament team. He was joined by teammates Tony Kujava, Chris Rial and Fiala. Kujava made 24 saves.

The loss to Adrian ended St. Norbert’s six-game win streak. It was also the first time in five games the Green Knights have given up more than one goal.

NESCAC – The lone Sunday championship game saw No. 2 seed Amherst edge No. 4 Williams 1-0. Andrew Fenwick produced the game’s lone tally on an assist from Austin Ho at 3:08 of the third period, which was all the goal support Lord Jeffs’ goalie Danny Vitale (23 saves) needed. Amherst, which is making its first NCAA showing since 2012, received a first-round bye and will await the winner of the Norwich/Plymouth bout.

SUNYAC – Top-seed Plattsburgh captured its 22nd league tourney title with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph overOswego. Connor Gorman’s goal at 17:27 of the second period proved to be the decisive goal in a contest that saw all the scoring come in the middle stanza. Connor Toomey struck first for the Cardinals at 5:23 before Morgan Bonner answered for Oswego at 11:34. Shots were at a premium, as Cards’ goalie Brady Rouleau stopped 16 of 17, while Matt Zawadzki turned away 20 of 22. Both teams will head to the NCAAs, with Platty receiving a first-round bye and will face the Hobart/Oswego winner. Plattsburgh has earned tourney berths in six of the last eight seasons, while the Lakers will make their sixth appearance in a row and seventh since 2007.

WIAC – Wisconsin-River Falls won a conference tournament title for the first time since 1996 with a 3-1 win over Wisconsin-Stevens Point on the road Saturday in the WIAC championship game. It was the first WIAC Commissioner’s Cup for River Falls, which erased an early 1-0 deficit en route to the win.

The title is the third overall for the eighth-ranked Falcons, who also won a championship in 1988.

River Falls trailed 1-0 after a goal by Kyle Sharkey, but Zach Schrotenboer tied the game at 1-1. Schrotenboer has played in only two games since Dec. 5. Neither team scored in the second period. The Falcons took control in the third on goals by Mike Fazio and Mike Dietrich.

River Falls, which is 20-7-1 overall, has been impressive on the road, going 10-4, and its win Saturday was its second of the year against the fourth-ranked Pointers, who fall to 21-6-1.

Tanner Milliron made 23 saves for the Falcons and Brandon Jaeger tallied 27 for the Pointers, who will now have to wait to see if they will get a bid to the NCAA tournament. Stevens Point didn’t win the league title last year, but made it to the tourney and advanced all the way to the national championship game.

Conference tournament final picks: March 5

Senior Jed McGlasson hopes to lead St. Mary’s to a MIAC playoff championship this weekend (photo: Andrew Peter Nyhus).

Nine conference tournament champions will be crowned this weekend at sites across the country.

Yes, like Jeffrey Jones’ character said in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” trophies will be handed out “nine times” this weekend.

But which teams garner the glory? Let’s see what our columnists have to say.

No. 3 Babson (19-5-3, 12-4-2) @ No. 1 Norwich (23-3-1, 17-1-0) – Norwich 2, Babson 1
The Cadets are clicking on all facets of the game these days.

No. 2 Salve Regina (12-9-3, 9-4-1) @ No. 1 Nichols (20-3-3, 11-1-2) – Nichols 5, Salve 2
The top-seeded Bison survived a close shave in Wednesday’s 3-2 semi win over Curry and will be looking for a full 60-minute effort against Salve. They’ll need one.

No. 2 Neumann (14-8-4, 9-5-1) @ No. 1 Hobart (20-6-0, 12-3-0) – Hobart 5, Neumann 3
Here’s a fun fact for you. Hobart has won nine straight despite giving up the first goal in four of their last six (the other two were shutout wins). Which means it’ll take more than just a fast start for the Knights to pull off the upset.

No. 2 Salem State (13-10-3, 9-7-2) @ No. 1 Plymouth State (15-8-3, 14-3-1) – PSU 5, Salem 1
The Panthers have had Salem’s number this year, having won three straight against the Vikings. An even more relevant number is two – the number of goals allowed by MASCAC first-team netminder Gordon Ceasar in his past three starts.

Hamline (13-10-4) at St. Mary’s (15-9-2)
The Pipers won’t be fazed by playing on the road after pulling off an upset of the Tommies last weekend. The Cardinals have been clutch in big moments, winning four of their last five games by a goal, including a double overtime win against Concordia last week. Both regular-season matchups were close, with St. Mary’s winning each one by a goal. This one should be just as tight and could go either way. This should be an entertaining battle as the MIAC’s top points leaders square off in Martin Gruse of St. Mary’s and Brandon Zurn of Hamline. Gruse leads the league in goals with 19, while Zurn has come through with 14 goals. The Cardinals get the edge playing this title game at home. St. Mary’s, 4-3.

St. Norbert (20-5-2) at Adrian (22-3-3)
The two best teams in the conference square off for the right to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The fifth-ranked Green Knights come into the Harris Cup final with plenty of title game experience, having won five consecutive championships. This is their 13th trip overall in the last 14 seasons. St. Norbert shares the puck as well as anyone, paving the way for their offensive success. Winners of their last 10, second-ranked Adrian comes into the game red-hot. The Bulldogs have a high-powered offense that won’t be easy to stop. They won both games against the Green Knights in the regular season and should get the job done in front of a sold-out crowd at home. Adrian, 5-3.

The league employs a “final four” championship format, with Williams, host team Amherst, Connecticut College and Tufts all looking to survive to Sunday’s title tilt. With top-seed Trinity already ousted, it wouldn’t be a shock to see No. 2 Amherst prevail over ancient rival No. 4 Williams (4-3) in an “Ephs ‘n’ Jeffs” final.

No. 2 Oswego (18-3-4, 12-2-2) @ No. 1 Plattsburgh (18-5-2, 13-2-1) – Plattsburgh 3, Oswego 2
This will be the 12th time the schools have met for the SUNYAC crown. The hoopla surrounding this rivarly tilt aside, special teams could be the determinant. Platty will have to stay out of the penalty box or risk the wrath of the Lakers’ power play, which is second best in the nation (31.5 percent).

Wisconsin-River Falls (19-7-1) at Wisconsin-Stevens Point (21-5-1)
The Falcons started off their season with 13 consecutive wins but struggled at times in the second half because of a difficult schedule. River Falls, ranked eighth in the nation, has gotten back on track. It took out Eau Claire on the road in the semifinal series of the tourney and won’t be rattled playing on the road against the Pointers, who are ranked fourth in the country and have already won the WIAC regular season title. Defense could very well decide this outcome as the Falcons and Pointers feature two of college hockey’s best goalies. Tanner Milliron of River Falls and Brandon Jaeger of Stevens Point have combined for eight shutouts, with Jaeger tallying a league-best five on the season. Goals won’t be easy to come by for either team and this one has the potential to be decided in overtime as both teams are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. Stevens Point, 3-2.

Weekend wrap: March 2

Oswego goalie Matt Zawadzki helped lift the Lakers past Buffalo State last weekend in the SUNYAC tournament (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

Lots went down in the Division III conference tournaments last weekend, so let’s get right to it.

ECAC EAST – Top-seeded (in the conference) and top-ranked (in the nation) Norwich edged Castleton 2-1 in a semifinal clash. Tallies by Dmitry Ermakov and Bryce Currier gave Cadet goaltender Ty Reichenbach all the goal support he would need … In the other semi, Babson upended Massachusetts-Boston, 5-2. Five different Beavers hit the scoresheet, while goalie Jamie Murray made 40 saves.

ECAC NORTHEAST – Johnson and Wales had no trouble dispatching Suffolk, 5-0. J & W broke open a close contest quarterfinal with three third-period goals, all of them unassisted. Goalie Joey Ballmer turned in a 27-save shutout … Elsewhere, Curry bombed Wentworth, 8-4. The Colonels received scoring from eight different sources.

ECAC WEST – Higher seeds Hobart and Neumann held the upper hand in Saturday’s semifinal action. The Statesmen had little trouble with Elmira, dispatching the Soaring Eagles 5-1. Bobby Sokol and Tommaso Traversa led the Hobart attack with a pair of goals each … Neumann walloped Nazareth, 8-4. The Knights broke open a 4-4 tie with four unanswered goals in the third.

MASCAC – Massachusetts-Dartmouth pulled off a mild upset in Saturday’s quarterfinal, nosing past Fitchburg State 5-4. The Corsairs held a commanding 4-0 lead early in the third, then had to hang on for the win … In the other quarter, Westfield State ousted Worcester State 6-3.

MIAC – Hamline is having the turnaround season of the year and the success continued for the Pipers Saturday in a MIAC tournament semifinal showdown against powerhouse St. Thomas, the reigning tourney champs and the 14th-ranked team in the nation.

Playing on the road against a Tommies team that had lost only once at home all year, the Pipers used an impressive offensive effort to earn a 6-3 win and punch a ticket to the championship game of the conference tourney.

Hamline was playing its second road game in three days – it rallied for a 4-3 win over Augsburg in the quarterfinal round Thursday – but that didn’t seem to bother the Pipers, who are seeking their first NCAA tournament berth since 2011.

Cody Mason broke a 3-3 tie with 4:09 left in the game. Brandon Zurn scored to push the score to 5-3 and an empty-netter by Kevin Novakovich finished off the scoring. It was Novoakovich’s second goal of the night.

It marked the first time all season that St. Thomas has given up more than four goals in a game.

John Sellie-Hanson made 34 saves for the Pipers, who improved to 13-10-14 overall after winning only three games combined the past two seasons.

The Pipers went 1-2 against St. Thomas in the regular season and won only their fifth road game of the season. Saturday’s win was the first in the postseason against the Tommies, who gave up more than four goals for the first time this season.

Connor McBride, Willie Faust and Nick Nielsen all scored for the Tommies. Andrew Herbert and Jaycob McCombs also punched in goals for the Pipers.

Hamline’s opponent in the championship game will be St. Mary’s, which edged Concordia (Minn.) 4-3 in double-overtime Sunday.

The Cardinals (15-9-3) earned the win on a goal by Martin Gruse.

Bob Kinne, Taylor Portner and Joey Van Antwerp also scored goals for St. Mary’s, which won its third consecutive game.

The Cobbers (13-9-4) got goals from Jeremy Johnson, Jordie Bancroft and John Grebosky.

St. Mary’s, in the MIAC tournament for the first time since 2004, won two of three against Concordia during the regular season, but had been beaten 8-3 by the Cobbers in the last meeting two weeks ago.

The Cobbers came in 3-1-1 in their last five games and were making their fourth postseason appearance in the past five seasons.

NCHA – Third-ranked Adrian needed overtime to hold off St. Scholastica in a thrilling Harris Cup semifinal battle Saturday night at home.

The Bulldogs (22-3-3) and Saints (12-13-3) played an overtime game for the fourth time in six meetings and Adrian prevailed when Kyle Brothers scored on the power play in OT. It was one of two goals Brothers scored in the win.

Playing for an NCHA title didn’t look likely for Adrian early on as the Bulldogs trailed 3-1. Dave Williams, Michael Spring and Dylan Nowakowski all scored to push the Saints in front. Brothers had the only goal for Adrian during the rough start.

But goals by Duston Hebebrand and Mathew Thompson brought the Bulldogs back to life and Brothers took care of the rest in the extra session as Adrian moved one step closer to an NCAA tournament berth.

Adrian, the winner of 10 consecutive games, will battle reigning conference and national champion St. Norbert for the title Saturday.

“I’m proud of the fight in this group and we look forward to the championship against a talented St. Norbert team,” Adrian coach Adam Krug said in a story on the school website. “It should be another great matchup and I hope we fire away from the beginning.”

The Bulldogs scored twice on the power play, while Saints went 0-for-3. Goalie Scott Shackell made 36 saves for Adrian, which avenged a 4-3 loss to the Saints in the playoffs last year.

In the other semifinal, No. 7 St. Norbert is still alive and well in the hunt for a conference title. The Green Knights moved on to the championship game with a 3-1 win over No. 15 Milwaukee School of Engineering Saturday.

The Green Knights (20-5-2) have won the last five conference titles and will have shot at No. 6 when they battle Adrian for the title Saturday.

St. Norbert scored three times in the second period as Chris Rial struck twice and Ross Pavek scored as well to push the Green Knights’ advantage to 3-0.

Zach Simpson scored the lone goal for the Raiders (17-11) in the third period. St. Norbert held a 31-17 advantage in shots. Brett Bower, Sam Higgins and Cullen Bradshaw all tallied assists for the Green Knights, who have won seven consecutive games.

Both teams struggled to convert on the power-play. St. Norbert missed on all six of its chances. MSOE was 1-of-8.

NESCAC – Quarterfinal tournament action got underway on four fronts, but the headliner was the stunning upset pulled off by Tufts. The Jumbos surprised top seed (and second-ranked) Trinity 2-1. Tyler Voigt netted the game-winner with 4:43 gone in the third, while goalie Mason Pulde slammed the door with a 40-save gem … Elsewhere, Amherst blanked Middlebury 3-0 behind a 28-save shutout from goalie Danny Vitale. Connecticut College took out Hamilton 4-3 in overtime, with J.C. Cangelosi providing the game-winner – on a power play – at 10:58 of the extra session. Lastly, Williams also was a 4-3 overtime winner, taking out Bowdoin on Craig Kitto’s tally at 9:26.

SUNYAC – Top seed Plattsburgh outlasted upset-minded Brockport, 7-5. The Cardinals held a hefty 4-1 lead after the first stanza, but Bport rallied to tie, 4-4, with three second-period goals. Platty scored twice, early in the third then held on from there. Meanwhile, Oswego squeaked past Buffalo State, thanks to a pair of goals from Brandon Adams and a 21-save whitewash by goalie Matt Zawadzki.

WIAC – Ninth-ranked Wisconsin-River Falls went the distance in its WIAC tournament semifinal series with 12th-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire and came out on top, ending the series with a 2-1 overtime win in the mini-game Saturday. The Falcons had won the opener 4-3 Friday, but lost the second game of the series 4-2.

Ross Andersen gave the Blugolds an early 1-0 lead, but the Falcons struck back and tied the score at 1-1. The mini-game ended in a tie and a sudden-death OT followed. Taylor Burden scored on a penalty shot, stepping up in a clutch moment to give the Falcons the win and a spot in the WIAC tournament title game.

In game two of the series, the Falcons fell behind 2-0 before Burden scored to cut the lead in half. It was his fourth goal of the year.

Blake Huppert punched in a goal in the second period to tie the game at 2-2. He also assisted on Burden’s goal earlier in the game.

The Falcons (19-7-1) lost three times to Eau Claire (18-7-2) in the regular season but came out ready to go in Friday’s opener.

Mike Fazio gave River Falls an early 1-0 lead but the Falcons trailed 3-1 before Mike Dietrich scored to cut the lead to 3-2. Kyle Gattelaro’s goal in the third tied the score at 3-3 and then gave the Falcons the lead for good at 4-3 later in the period.

Tanner Milliron made 25 saves as the Falcons snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Blugolds just their fourth home loss of the year.

In the other WIAC tourney semifinal series, No. 5 Wisconsin-Stevens Point got the job done against Wisconsin-Superior and will play for the conference title this weekend.

The Pointers (21-5-1) trailed 3-2 after two periods, but exploded for three goals in the third to pull away for the win and wrap up the hard-fought series.

Lawrence Cornellier, Kevin Gibson and Scott Henegar all scored in the third for the Pointers, who held a 33-28 edge in shots.

Tanner Dion gave Superior (9-18-1) a 1-0 lead before Garrett Ladd tied the game at 1-1. Jordan Neduzak scored the Yellowjackets’ next two goals, the second giving Superior a 3-2 lead.

But it was all Stevens Point the rest of the way as they put themselves in a position to earn another trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pointers were the national runner-up a year ago.

Stevens Point and Superior skated to a 1-1 overtime tie in Friday’s opener.

Kyle Sharkey scored the lone goal for the Pointers in the first period, but Superior tied the game on a goal by Eric Shand in the third to force OT. Neither team could score in the final 18 minutes of the third or in the five-minute OT.

Sharkey’s goal was his 15th of the season.

It was the first tie of the season for the Pointers. Goalie Brandon Jaeger made 28 saves and played in his 86th career game, breaking the program record.

Conference tournament picks

Drew Fielding will need to be strong in net if St. Thomas is to emerge out of the MIAC as playoff champs (photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com).

This is when Dan and Brian really hope that magic 8-ball works wonders as they pick the nine conference tournaments in men’s Division III.



St. Thomas vs. Hamline: I’m picking Hamline to knock off Augsburg in the quarterfinal game, which means the Pipers will battle the Tommies on the road Saturday in a semifinal showdown. The Tommies are tough to beat at home. St. Thomas, 4-2.

St. Mary’s vs. Concordia (Minn.): The Cardinals are having one of their best seasons in more than a decade. The Cobbers have had a great year as well, but haven’t played in nearly two weeks. I like the way St. Mary’s has played in the second half of the season. St. Mary’s 5-4.

Championship: St. Thomas will once again be the top team in the MIAC and head back to the NCAA tournament. St. Thomas, 4-3.


Adrian vs. St. Scholastica: The Bulldogs are a hot hockey right now and have a dangerous offense and a stingy defense. The Saints were nationally-ranked at times this season and are coming off an upset in the opening round. But it’s hard to bet against the Bulldogs, especially at home. Adrian, 5-2, 4-2.

St. Norbert vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering: The Green Knights are on a roll, winning five consecutive games, and are determined to defend their NCHA title. MSOE beat St. Norbert once this year, but I think St. Norbert will rise to the occasion this weekend. St. Norbert, 5-3.

Championship: Adrian is the best team in the NCHA this year and the Bulldogs will be the team holding up the trophy when the tourney is all said and done. Adrian, 6-4.


Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. Wisconsin-Superior: The Pointers have put together back-to-back 20-win seasons and are hungry for a league tourney championship. Superior will play hard, but Stevens Point is too good of a team to lose this series. Stevens Point, 5-2, 4-0.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Wisconsin-River Falls: This series could certainly go the distance. The Blugolds and Falcons are both playing good hockey heading into the tournament. Eau Claire went 3-0 against River Falls in the regular season. Eau Claire 4-2, River Falls 4-3, Eau Claire 2-1.

Championship: Stevens Point and Eau Claire will duke it out for the title in a showdown between two of the best teams in the nation. But the Pointers are on a mission and I expect them to get the job done. Stevens Point, 5-4.


All games Saturday

ECAC EAST Semifinal – #4 Castleton ( 11-15-0, 8-10-0) @ #1 Norwich (22-3-1, 17-1-0). Norwich 5, Castleton 1. Norwich is on the sort of roll that could land them a spot in the Frozen Four. Castleton happens to be in line for a flattening.

ECAC NORTHEAST Semifinal - #6 Suffolk (11-12-2) @ #3 Johnson & Wales (14-10-1, 8-6-0). J & W 3, Suffolk 2. Suffolk got off to one of the best starts (7-0-1) in school history, then fell apart after Christmas. J & W could use a little traction themselves, but chances are they’ll find some here.

ECAC WEST Semifinal – #3 Nazareth (12-9-5, 7-4-4) @ #2 Neumann (13-8-4, 9-5-1). Neumann 5, Nzareth 3. As a third year program, the rise of Nazareth has been impressive. Neumann did knock the Golden Flyers off twice, two weekends back and has been strong at home (8-3-1) all season long.

MASCAC Quarterfinal – #4 Westfield State (11-12-2, 8-8-2) @ #6 Worcester State (9-14-2, 7-10-1). Worcester 4, Westfield 3. Worcester put on a bit of a finishing kick to slip into the league’s final playoff spot. The guess here is that there is a little more left in the tank.

NESCAC Quarterfinal – # 5 Bowdoin (14-7-3, 8-7-3) @ #4 Williams (14-8-2, 10-7-1). Bowdoin 3, Williams 2. Could history repeat itself? If so, then the fifth-ranked Polar Bears should prepare for three more upset wins on the way to a second consecutive tourney title.

SUNYAC Semifinal – # 6 Brockport (13-11-2, 6-8-2) @ # 1 Plattsburgh (18-5-2, 13-2-1). Plattsburgh 6, Brockport 3. Brockport has enjoyed a very nice year, but Platty is not of a mind to make nice. Doubtful the Cardinals are looking past Bport to next week’s presumed clash (on home ice) with Oswego for the SUNYAC crown.

Weekend wrap: Feb. 23

Mason Baptista helped St. Norbert sweep Lawrence last weekend (photo: Nick Patton).

The regular season is in the books.

Now the fun starts.

Last weekend was full of action:

ECAC EAST – The East got a week’s jump on the playoffs, and with three nationally-ranked teams among its number, no upsets were expected. And none were pulled off, for that matter. Top seed Norwich ousted No. 8 Southern Maine, 4-0, Massachusetts-Boston blasted Skidmore, 11-1, Babson handled New England College, 3-1, and Castleton squeaked past UNE in overtime, 3-2. Corbin Marcotte scored the game-winner for the Spartans at the three-minute mark of the extra session. Round Two tilts featuring the four survivors are slated to go on Saturday.

ECAC NORTHEAST – Nichols polished off its strong regular season with a pair of wins over WNEC, 5-2 and 8-3. Junior forward Frank Butler had a massive weekend, notching three-goal hat tricks in both games, giving him 19 for the season … Salve Regina, which will be seeded second in the upcoming playoffs, was upended 4-1 Johnson & Wales, which will be the third seed.

ECAC WEST – Regular-season play in the West wrapped up on Friday with first-place Hobart squeezing past Elmira, 2-1. Neumann topped Manhattanville, 5-2, thanks to a four-goal second period eruption, while Nazareth and Utica battled to a 1-1 overtime tie. The playoffs will open on Wednesday.

MASCAC – Conference champ Plymouth State fended off lowly Framingham State, 2-1, thanks to second-period goals by Zach Sarig and Josh Woody. The Panthers fired 41 shots at Framingham goalie Alessio Muggli. Salem State, which sits in second place just two points ahead of Fitchburg State, fought to a 1-1 overtime tie with the Falcons.

MIAC – St. Thomas did it again. The Tommies are the champions of the MIAC, winning the title outright with a sweep of rival St. John’s. It marks the fourth consecutive year the Tommies have earned at least a share of the championship. The Tommies beat the Johnnies 3-1 Friday to wrap up the regular season. Nick Nielsen, Michael Krieg and Willie Faust all scored goals for St. Thomas, which improved to 16-5-4 overall and 10-3-3 in the MIAC. The Tommies end the regular season with an 11-1-2 record at home. St. Thomas has won its last two games and is unbeaten in five of its last six games. Drew Fielding tallied 29 saves and won his 12th game of the season…St. Mary’s ended the regular season in second place after topping Hamline 5-4 Saturday. The Cardinals got a huge lift from Bob Kinne, who recorded his first collegiate hat trick. Kinne scored all three of his goals in the first two periods of the game. It was the fifth time this season that a St. Mary’s player has come through with a hat trick. The Cardinals also got goals from Taylor Portner and Mike Mezzano as they improved to 14-9-2 overall and 9-5-2 in the conference. The 14 wins is the most for a St. Mary’s team since the 1997-98 campaign. Phil Heinle made 49 saves, two shy of his career high. The Cardinals edged Hamline 4-3 in overtime Friday behind a game-winning goal from Chad Cesarz, helping St. Mary’s secure its first playoff trip since the 2003-04 season. Cesarz has scored 13 goals for St. Mary’s, which enters the playoffs on a two-game win streak … The MIAC postseason begins Thursday with Hamline traveling to Augsburg for a quarterfinal showdown. St. Thomas hosts the winner of that game Saturday. St. Mary’s welcomes Concordia (Minn.) to town in the other semifinal. The championship is slated for March 7 at the site of the highest remaining seed. The Tommies are the reigning league tourney champions and one of only two teams that were in the tourney field a year ago. Concordia was also in the MIAC tournament last season.

NCHA – St. Norbert stayed alive in its quest to win another NCHA championship after rolling through a two-game series against Lawrence over the weekend. The Green Knights blanked the Vikings twice, winning 5-0 and 6-0 to advance to the semifinal round of the Harris Cup playoffs. Michael Hill fueled the Green Knights in their series-clinching win, recording a hat trick. He also dished out an assist. His goal total for the season is at 20. Mason Baptista tallied three assists while Tyler Zepeda came through with a goal and assist for the defending national champions. The Green Knights, who are 19-5-2, scored three times off the power play as they won their fifth consecutive game. It was their third consecutive shutout win. On Friday, Cullen Bradshaw, Blake Thompson, Tanner Froese, Kyle Lee and Chris Rial all scored…The Milwaukee School of Engineering survived a thrilling series against Marian over the weekend and advanced into the semifinal round of the tourney against St. Norbert. The Raiders won the opener 6-3 but fell 4-2 in the second game, setting up a mini-game between the two teams. MSOE earned the win in OT of the mini-game thanks to a goal by James Ring. Ring also scored a goal in the regulation game. Brian Berger scored twice for the Sabres Saturday. The Raiders held a 9-1 advantage in shots in OT of the mini-game. MSOE started off the series with a win Friday. Evan Wilson scored twice to pace the offensive attack of the Raiders, who ended Marian’s six-game win streak. Adrian swept Concordia in its opening playoff series while St. Scholastica went the distance against Lake Forest, winning 1-0 in a decisive mini-game Sunday. The Saints won the opener of the series 2-1 but fell 3-2 in the second game Sunday. That set up the mini-game and the Saints prevailed, winning 1-0 and advancing to play Adrian this weekend in the semifinal round of the tourney. Derek Hills scored the winning goal. On Friday, Keegan Bruce scored the game-winner in the second period as the Saints opened up a 1-0 lead in the series.

NESCAC – Having already wrapped up the NESCAC crown, Trinity tuned up for the playoffs with a pair of decisive wins over Wesleyan, 4-1 and 6-0. Connecticut College notched a pair of 4-1 wins – at Bowdoin and Colby – and wound up slipping into third place tie with Williams which lost both its weekend encounters. Because they hold the tiebreaker over Williams, the Camels will be the third seed in the playoffs, which get started on Saturday.

SUNYAC – It was hardly the sort of regular season wrapup that Oswego had hoped for. Ranked first in the nation heading into Friday’s tilt with then No. 9 Plattsburgh, the Lakers were held to a 3-3 overtime tie and had to rally for that much via Nick Ravait’s third-period power-play goal. The next night, Oswego was upset by Potsdam, 4-2, as the Bears potted four unanswered goals, and in the process, earned them a home playoff game (Wednesday against Buffalo State) for the first time in six seasons … For its part, Plattsburgh captured the league’s regular-season crown, its first since 2009, with Saturday’s 5-2 win at Cortland.

WIAC – Wisconsin-Stevens Point didn’t win the regular season championship a year ago, but did go on to play for the national championship. The Pointers are the champions of the WIAC in the regular season this year, however, after beating Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Superior this past weekend for its 10th title in program history. Stevens Point clinched the title outright Saturday with a 7-0 win over Superior, giving it back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. Stevens Point is 20-5 overall and 10-2 in the WIAC. It hasn’t had a 20-win regular season since winning the title in 1993 and the Pointers won their first regular season title since 2000. Kyle Sharkey scored a goal and dished out two assists while Kevin Gibson also came through with a goal and two assists. Scott Henegar racked up four assists against Superior. Brandon Jaeger won his 20th game in goal as he racked up his fifth shutout of the season. He has won 20 games in each of the last two years and is second all-time in saves with 1,892. The Pointers topped River Falls 5-3 Friday. Gibson and Garrett Ladd both tallied a goal and an assist … Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be the second seed in the WIAC tournament after finishing off a perfect weekend. The Blugolds wrapped up the regular season with a 3-2 win over River Falls Saturday. They trailed 2-0 but scored the next three goals en route to the win. They are 17-6-2 overall and 9-3 in the WIAC. Ross Andersen scored the game winner. It was his fifth shorthanded goal of the year, tying a school record that was set during the 1991-92 season. It was also Andersen’s fourth game-winning goal of the season. Patrick Moore and Jack Callahan also scored goals for the Blugolds, who are 73-31-8 over the last four seasons. Eau Claire has won its last two games. It started off the week with a 5-1 win over Stout Thursday. The Blugolds have won eight of the last 11 games against the Blue Devils and assured themselves of a winning season for the fifth consecutive year with the victory. The Blugolds begin postseason play next weekend when they host River Falls in a playoff series.

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