Weekend West picks: Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Another hockey season has arrived and it’s time to make a few predictions for the games taking place during the first weekend of the season

St. Thomas vs. Augsburg: The Tommies begin life without Drew Fielding in goal, but still have the talent to be a contender for the MIAC championship. Willie Faust is one of 18 letter-winners returning for St. Thomas, which will be taking aim at its fifth regular-season crown. Augsburg was a conference tournament participant a year ago and will look to take another step forward this year. While this game is a chance for the Auggies to make an early statement, the Tommies are the favorite. St. Thomas, 3-2.

St. John’s vs. St. Thomas: Intensity is never in short supply when the Johnnies and Tommies square off. St. John’s finished sixth in the league last season, but is determined to climb back to the top after missing the conference tourney by a point. St. John’s will benefit from the return of Kevin Becker (seven goals) and goaltender Saxton Soley (nine wins). Look for the Johnnies to come away with a win in a tight one. St. John’s 4-3.

Adrian vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering: It’s an early-season showdown between two of the best teams in the conference. The Bulldogs won 24 games last season and return the top goal-scorer in the nation in Kyle Brothers, who punched in 24 goals last season. He also dished out 25 assists during a remarkable freshman season. The Engineers welcome back every player that scored a goal for them last season, in addition to goaltender Nick Kohn, who won 13 games. These two teams will play twice and both games should be tight from start to finish. Adrian 2-1, MSOE, 3-2.

Concordia (Wis.) vs. Lake Forest: This home-and-home kicks off at Lake Forest. The Foresters return 11 players who scored at least one goal last season and feature one of the best goaltenders in the country in Leo Podolsky, who is poised for a big senior year. Braden Crone is back to lead the way for Concordia after tallying six goals and 15 assists last season. The Falcons are hoping to have a winning season after finishing 8-19 a year ago, but beating the Foresters will be a challenge. Lake Forest, 2-0 and 3-2.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Lawrence: The 2015 national runner-up will look to get the season started on a positive note. They Pointers are loaded with experience as 18 letter-winners are on the roster, including Joe Kalisz, who struck for 18 goals and tallied 14 assists last year. Lawrence should be an improved team as its top four scorers are back. Mattias Soderqvist returns at goaltender as well. Blake Roubos is the top scoring threat for Vikings, scoring six goals and dishing out eight assists last year. Stevens Point, 4-2.

Wisconsin-River Falls at St. Scholastica: River Falls comes in after a year where it won the WIAC tournament title. Kyle Gattelaro is back for the Falcons after coming up with 13 goals and 12 assists last season. St. Scholastica has plenty of experience as eight seniors are on the roster. The group includes goaltender Tyler Bruggeman, who won nine games a year ago. The Saints will also be able to count on Dylan Nowakowski, who racked up 12 goals and 18 assists last year. This should prove to be an interesting nonconference game. River Falls, 3-2.

Weekend East picks: Oct. 30

Well here we are – Week 1 and what a schedule to open the season with great conference and nonconference matchups on the schedule, starting with Game 1 of the season.

I will be picking four games a week and will not avoid the most challenging matchups in an attempt to make my record look good. Expecting some “friendly” competition with my partner from the West, Brian Lester, and at the end of the season, we will see who has bragging rights for the prognostication record this season.

Here are my picks for the East in week one:

Friday, Oct. 30

Nichols @ Norwich
What a game to open the season for both incumbent champions from their respective conferences. Looks like the ultimate matchup of superior offense vs. superior defense in front of a sold-out crowd in the raucous Kreitzberg Arena. Not likely to be any first game jitters for either team, but home ice matters here – Norwich 3, Nichols 2.

Oswego @ Geneseo
Two contenders in SUNYAC open the season looking to build great momentum from a key conference game. Oswego brings the firepower to challenge some inexperienced goaltending for the home team. This one will likely be decided by which team handles the puck in their own end and limits Grade A scoring chances better – Oswego 4, Geneseo 2.

Hobart @ Babson
Another heavyweight matchup on opening night finds ECAC West meeting ECAC East. Hobart coach Mark Taylor is looking for his team to have a better start than last season, but will be challenged on the road by a strong Babson team led by All-American goaltender Jamie Murray. Don’t expect a lot of scoring in this one – Babson 2, Hobart 1.

Salve Regina @ Manhattanville
Two teams that are looking to showcase their ability to compete at the top of their respective conferences matchup in this opener to the season. The Seahawks are the better team on paper, but that all goes out the window once the teams step inside the glass – Salve Regina 5, Manhattanville 2.

It is a long way to March, but each and every game can have an impact on where teams end up in the end. Great matchups abound as all but a couple of conferences open play in D-III. As the legend John Connolly says, “Drop the Puck!”

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.

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