NCHA dominates Thanksgiving action

Looking back at the Thanksgiving tournament games has led me to believe that the NCHA is the strongest conference in the Midwest, from Wis.-Eau Claire’s run to the Adrian Thanksgiving Tournament title to St. Scholastica winning its two games at the MCHA/NCHA Showcase. St. Norbert fared well at the Showcase as well, with a victory and a come-from-behind tie at Marian, which hosted the MCHA/NCHA showcase.

Wis.-Eau Claire’s impressive run at the Adrian Thanksgiving Tournament was in part to great goalie play from Brandon Stephenson, but he had great defensive help in front of him. He faced 18 shots against Adrian during the first game of the tournament.

Both teams had power-play goals in the game, but Adrian had nearly twice as many penalties as Wis.-Eau Claire, resulting in more scoring chances. Jon Waggoner scored Wis.-Eau Claire’s power-play goal after three Adrian players were called for penalties in a four-minute time span to tie the game at 1-1.  Tyler Romasco scored the game-winning goal two minutes into the second period, as Wis.-Eau Claire held on for the 2-1 victory.

It was Wis.-Eau Claire’s second victory in a row over Adrian at the Thanksgiving tournament. Wis.-Eau Claire had a 4-3 overtime win in last year’s tournament.

Wis.-Eau Claire went on to defeat Buffalo State, 3-1, to claim the title. Once again, Stephenson stopped 18 shots as Wis.-Eau Claire outshot Buffalo State 28-19. Stephenson and Romasco were named players of the tournament.

Adrian lost the consolation game to St. Thomas 3-1, making it the first time in a year Adrian has lost back-to-back games at home.

Wis.-Eau Claire is 4-0 this season against non-NCHA teams.

St. Scholastica has built itself a three-game winning streak, with two wins Thanksgiving weekend at the MCHA /NCHA showcase at Marian.

Six different players scored goals for St. Scholastica, as they controlled play, defeating Lawrence 6-1 on Saturday.

After being down 3-1, St. Scholastica roared back with three-consecutive goals in the third period for a come-from-behind victory over Marian, 4-3

Carter Davis and Jeremy Dawes each scored two goals for the series to lead the way for St. Scholastica offensively. St. Scholastica is also 4-0 outside of the NCHA this season.

Usually, St. Norbert receives top billing in the NCHA, but the defending D-III national champions have been marked men this year.

St. Norbert erased a two-goal deficit in the final period to forge 5-5 overtime ties with Marian. The ebb and flow of the game was a back-and-forth contest. St. Norbert started off with a two-goal lead, but Marian came back to take a 3-2 lead. Seth Soley tied the game at three with a goal for St. Norbert. Marian answered with two more goals of its own. Cody Keefer and Brandon Hoogenboom would score two third period goals to bring St. Norbert back, tying game at five goals apiece.

It was much easier the night before against Lawrence. Alain Joanette scored two goals for St. Norbert, as it cruised to a 5-1 victory.

St. Norbert is 3-0-2 outside the NCHA and 6-2-3 overall, which is a fantastic record, but the defending NCAA champions have looked beatable at times during the season.

St. Norbert had to come from behind to tie Gustavus, 2-2, early in the season at home. Then, a few weeks later on the road, St. Norbert held a 4-0 third period lead at Wis.-River Falls, but let that lead slip. St. Norbert settled for a 5-5 tie after a furious third period comeback by Wis.-River Falls. Wis.-River Falls scored three power-play goals in the game as part of the comeback.

St. Norbert’s two losses have come at the hands of conference foes Wis.-Stevens Point and Wis.-River Falls.

Overall this season, NCHA teams are 21-5-2 in nonconference games.

Weekly Awards
The MIAC and MCHA have announced player of the week awards, for Thanksgiving week.

Hockey Athlete-of-the-Week: Sascha Pettit (Jr.), St. John’s. Pettit led the way with four points. He scored two goals, including the game-winner in the first game of the series against Concordia (Wis.), and the game-tying assist in the second game. He is tied for St. John’s team lead with five goals, and ranks second with eight points.

Player of the Week: Colin McIntosh (Sr.), Northland College. McIntosh scored four goals and had one assist in the 8-4 victory over Bethel. In an amazing span of less than three minutes, he tallied the natural hat trick in the process.

Defensive Player of the Week: Connor Toomey (Sr.), Milwaukee School of Engineering. Claimed for his work against St. Mary’s.  Toomey’s 20-save shutout, the eighth of his career, tied Matt Burzon for the most by an MSOE goaltender. It is the 11th time he has been named Defensive Player of the Week.

Freshman of the Week: Brian Berger, Marian University. Berger scored a goal each game, including a power-play tally against No. 7 St. Norbert, Saturday.


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