Depth should keep St. Norbert on top again

Such is the depth of the Green Knights that their coach regard their fourth line as a strength.

“Our fourth line might be our most effective group on any given night,” said coach Tim Coghlin, whose lengthy roster gives him the option of sending out a large-sized or a skating squad, depending on the opponent.

That’s a comforting thought to Northern Central Hockey Association foes who have to tangle with one of Division III’s most successful programs. The team is coming off NCHA regular season and playoff titles, as well as a deep run into the NCAA D-III tournament.

The top line of Scott Pulak, Taylor Langford and Johan Ryd — a catalyst down the stretch last season — is off to a roiling start. In the squad’s two opening-season victories over UW-Stout, Pulak compiled five assists while Ryd netted two goals and two assists and Longley two goals.

Sophomore Cody Keefer, who runs things on the second line, collected two goals.

“Without special teams, they would all get equal ice time,” says Coghlin, who was named NCHA Coach of the Year last season. “It’s just a matter of who is on the power play more than anything else.”

The Green Knights are also solid on the blue line with seniors Mike Bernardy, Dustin Walz, Adam Hammerbeck and Nick Tabisz.

They also provide offensive punch. Three-time All-NCHA rearguard Tabisz was the team’s defensive leading scorer with eight goals and 16 assists last season, while Bernardy had eight goals and 12 assists.

In goal, senior B.J. O’Brien is steady without being flashy. The All-American netminder posted a microscopic 1.61 goals-against average while going 24-3-3.

O’Brien was in goal for both wins over UW-Stout.

“We don’t expect our goaltender to have to win a lot of games for us, but he’s got to make three or four critical stops in any given game,” Coghlin says. “So far, he’s demonstrated through his play last year that he is capable of doing that.”