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College Hockey:
St. Norbert Outlasts St. Scholastica

— Despite being held under five goals for only the second time this season, as well as not getting a shot in net in the final ten minutes, second-ranked St. Norbert (8-0-1) withstood a late charge from feisty St. Scholastica (4-2-0) and escaped with a 3-2 victory.

It looked like St. Norbert would get on the board early as less than two minutes into the contest, back-to-back penalties on the Saints gave the Green Knights over three continuous minutes on the power play, with over a full minute of it coming in the form of a two man advantage. Despite the advantage and a multitude of chances, all St. Norbert could muster was a shot off the post.

Though St. Norbert outshot the Saints 14-7 in the opening stanza, the two would play to a scoreless frame largely due to the goaltending of St. Scholastica’s Tyler Johnson. It was only the third time this season the Green Knights did not get on the board in the first period.

They would in the second, and it would be pretty.

With freshman forward Matt Boyd carrying the puck across the blue line into the left side of the Saints’ zone and getting forced wide it looked as if the two-on-two rush had been shut down, but Boyd found an unmarked Sam Tikka trailing the play down the center of the ice. Tikka patiently waited for Johnson to commit low before pulling the puck to his forehand and sliding it in to put St. Norbert up 1-0 at the 10:54 mark.

St. Scholastica wasn’t about to roll over however, as less than four minutes later at the 14:39 mark, the Saints’ would get on the board and they would do it the hard way. Following a save of a Shawn Bartlette shot by St. Norbert goaltender Kyle Jones, the Saints’ crashed the net and freshman forward Aaron Spotts was johnny-on-the-spot, jamming the puck past Jones to tie the game at one.

The game wouldn’t be tied for long. The Green Knights would reclaim the lead a mere seven seconds later in rather puzzling fashion. Shane Wheeler would win the ensuing faceoff and knock it straight ahead towards the St. Scholastica zone. Somehow Lonny Forrester was able to get to it before either Saints defenseman, in turn setting up a breakaway. After a small deke to freeze Johnson, Forrester buried a wrister over Johnson’s left shoulder. 2-1 St. Norbert.

The score would hold entering the second intermission, with St. Norbert holding a 33-17 shot advantage.

The Saints would open the third period with a healthy dose of energy, but it was St. Norbert would get the next goal. After sustaining pressure in the St. Scholastica zone for some time, Forrester would pick up his second of the night. Pulling the puck out of a scramble in front of the Saints net, he would once again beat Johnson high to put the Green Knights up 3-1 with 12:49 remaining in the game.

Less than three minutes later at the 10:22 mark, the Saints would again strike back. After obtaining the puck in his own zone, St. Scholastica forward Chris Blackmon would fire a pass all the way to the far blue line, hitting Bartlette in stride. Bartlette would make the most of his opportunity and beat Jones low to the far side to get the Saints right back in the game.

St. Norbert flat out doesn’t lose third period leads, and though they held on again tonight it didn’t come easy. The final ten minutes was all Saints in every aspect of the game. As mentioned, they didn’t even allow St. Norbert to get a shot on net in the final ten minutes. Despite the effort, and a loose puck hopping around in front of Jones in the final minute, they would be unable to get the tying goal and the Green Knights would hold on for the win.

Jones would stop 23 shots on the night for the Green Knights as they jump into the tie for the conference lead with an undefeated weekend. Johnson stopped 36 in the loss, which concluded a 1-1 weekend for the Saints.

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