The three “Ws” of Division III hockey – watching, waiting, worrying.
That was plenty of each to go around for teams with NCAA tournament aspirations, especially for top seeds – including three of five in the East – who fell in this past weekend’s conference championship tilts.
Ultimately, the news from the selectors was good for some and downright disappointing for others.
Here is the roundup:
Being the top seed didn’t help Norwich, who fell to No. 2 Babson, 2-1 in the title tilt at Kreitzberg Arena.
The Beavers used two third-period goals, including one by Nik Tasiopoulos at 10:29, to retain its league tournament crown.
Still, the Cadets managed to garner an at-large bid, extending their string of NCAA appearances to five consecutive seasons and eight for their last nine.
Top seed Nichols prevailed over No. 3 Wentworth, but it took Brett Jackson’s tally at 1:41 of overtime to get the job done.
Nichols claims just its second-ever league (and NCAA berth), the first having come in 2009.
The upset theme continued in the West where No. 2 Elmira toppled top-seeded Utica, 5-2.
The Soaring Eagles used four unanswered goals – including three in the third period – to take its sixth conference title in seven years.
As the league doesn’t enjoy an automatic qualifier into the tournament and while Elmira had hopes of an NCAA bid, they were shut out by the selectors.
Being ranked No. 1 didn’t hurt Salem State any as the Vikings dropped No. 2 Plymouth State 5-1 to earn their first NCAA bid since 1995.
Chris Mastropietro had a masterful performance, potting three goals and setting up another.
Another pitting of top-two seeds, with No. 1 St. Thomas outlasting No. 2 Gustavus Adolphus 2-1.
This one, as they say, went down to the wire, with the Tommies’ Jordan Lovick knocking in the game-winner with just 1:15 to play.
Top-seed St. Norbert continued its postseason mastery by winning its fifth consecutive conference tourney – and 10th since 2003 – with a 5-1 trouncing of No. 3 St. Scholastica.
The Green Knights will be considered a top-favorite to win its fourth Frozen Four championship, the last of which came in 2012.
The news was good for No. 2 Adrian, which spent several weeks atop the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll, but was upset by St. Scholastica in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have earned an at-large NCAA berth.
Fifth-seeded Bowdoin, which will host the Frozen Four in two weeks, earned a shot to be one of its participants after taking a 3-2 win over No. 2 Amherst in double overtime.
John McGinnis’ game-winner came with just 22 seconds gone in the second extra session.
The Polar Bears have now been NCAA tourney participants four of the past five years.
Meet the old champs.
Same as the new champs.
That would be Oswego, who repeated as league champions, albeit this time as the third-seed, by knocking off No. 1 Geneseo, in a mad-cap, 7-6 goal-fest.
The Lakers saw a 5-1 lead evaporate, but still managed to pull this one across the line.
Shawn Hulshof’s power-play goal with 28.7 seconds remaining proved to be the difference.
Oswego guaranteed itself its fifth straight NCAA berth – the last two ended in heartbreak with Frozen Four title game losses – while Geneseo made it in as an at-large entry.
With no auto-bid to count on, the Wisco quintet has to find other ways to work their way into the NCAA bracket.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point did just that, even though they lost a week ago to defending national champion Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the WIAC quarterfinals.
Eau Claire went on to blank Wisconsin-Superior 3-0 to win the league tournament, but will not have a chance to defend its title as Stevens Point, not Eau Claire, wound up with an at-large invite.