ASHWAUBENON, Wis. — Defenseman Tim Schneider put Wisconsin-Superior into the NCHA championship game, scoring at 10 minutes, 31 seconds of overtime to give the Yellowjackets a 4-3 victory over Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday.
Michael Wiggins tied the game and Nathan Ziemski made 33 saves for Superior, which will play the winner of Friday’s Wisconsin-River Falls-St. Norbert game for the NCHA playoff title and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
Schneider scored his fourth goal of the season off a faceoff in the Pointers’ end. Yann Poirier won the draw for Superior, sending it back to Schneider at the right point.
Schneider fired the puck past the glove hand of Stevens Point goaltender Bob Gould.
It was the first win in the last four Fridays for Superior. It was 0-1-2 in the last three weekend openers.
“All through the year we’ve been in close games but we always tie; we can’t win them,” Schneider said. “This one felt good. Fortunately, we were able to come out on top.”
Stevens Point, which will play the loser of Friday’s second NCHA Peters Cup championship semifinal in the third-place game Saturday, dropped to 17-9-2 and probably out of the hunt for an NCAA tournament spot.
The Pointers were up 3-1 in the second period before Superior (19-5-4) rallied.
“We felt if we could have gotten it to 4-1, it’s a different ballgame,” Stevens Point coach Joe Baldarotta said. “When it gets to that edge, you make it 3-1, you have to make it 4-1. We failed to do that, and that’s something that hurt.”
Superior answered a three-goal Stevens Point rally in the second period with a key goal that made the deficit only one entering the third. Shane Lodhar found Colin Kendall for a breakaway, and Kendall wristed the puck just inside the left post at 10:36.
The Yellowjackets then broke through in a tight-checking third period to knot the game at 3. Michael Wiggins swept a rebound past Gould with 13:27 left in regulation.
Gould, a senior, made 31 saves. He was the last one off the ice after the game, bending over, staring at the ice until the Zamboni forced him off.
The Yellowjackets found a seam in the Pointers’ defense midway through the first period to opening the scoring.
Chris Hackett threaded a pretty neutral-zone pass between two UWSP defenders, the puck landing on Rob Whidden’s stick for a breakaway. Whidden buried his shot between Bob Gould’s pads for a 1-0 lead at 9:34.
But Superior got sloppy in its own end in the second period, leading to three straight Pointers goals.
A scramble around the Superior net led to the puck squirting out into the slot. With Ziemski out of position but two blockers ahead of him, the Pointers’ Randy Enders cooly chipped the puck into the top part of the net to tie the game at 1 at 3:16.
On the power play just over three minutes later, Joel Marshall gave the Pointers a 2-1 lead, redirecting a Ryan Feil pass off the left boards past Ziemski and just inside the right post.
Nick Glander made it a 3-1 Stevens Point lead at 9:27, positioning himself in front of the net to take a Marshall pass and one-time it into the net.