Men's D-III wrap: Feb. 18

Last weekend in NCAA Division III teams were either wrapping up the regular season or beginning the postseason. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Semifinals set in NCHA

After an exciting first round of the Peters Cup tournament, the semifinals of the NCHA playoffs are set for Saturday, Feb. 23.
Sixth-seeded Wisconsin-River Falls upset Wisconsin-Stevens Point to earn a trip to No. 1 Wisconsin-Eau Claire. After falling 2-1 in Friday’s opener, the Falcons rebounded with a 4-1 victory on Saturday. River Falls went 2-for-4 on power play opportunities while the Pointers went 0-for-3.
The key to the Falcons’ impressive series win was the steady play of goalie Scott Lewan. Lewan allowed only three goals plus one in the 3-1 minigame victory and recorded 51 saves.
Higher-seeded St. Scholastica and St. Norbert also survived their first-round series. No. 4 St. Scholastica swept No. 5 Wisconsin-Superior, while defending D-III champion St. Norbert took care of Wisconsin-Stout, setting up a semifinals series between No. 2 St. Norbert and No. 4 St. Scholastica.
The Green Knights topped the pesky Blue Devils by identical 3-2 scores. In Friday’s opener, St. Norbert’s Kyle Stroh cashed in with two goals. On Saturday, defenseman Reid Campbell scored his first goal of the season to lift the Green Knights.
For St. Scholastica, Brandon Nowakowski kept his hot streak alive, scoring in both games to stretch his goal-scoring streak to five games.

St. Thomas, St. John’s share MIAC title

The race for the MIAC title came down to a wild finish with rivals St. Thomas and St. John’s forced to share the league title after completing regular season play last weekend.
St. Thomas earned the No. 1 seed for the upcoming MIAC playoffs thanks to a sweep of St. John’s earlier this season. For the Tommies, (13-10-2, 10-5-1 in the MIAC) it’s their record 29th league title. The first round of the MIAC playoffs begins Friday, with quarterfinals slated for Saturday.

Oswego claims SUNYAC crown

Despite falling to Plattsburgh in its regular-season finale, Oswego (21-4, 14-2 in SUNYAC) secured the league title and the top seed in the SUNYAC playoffs.
The Lakers received a bye and won’t play until Saturday when they host the winner of No. 6 Potsdam and No. 3 Geneseo, who kick off first-round action on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, No. 5 Fredonia tangles with No. 4 Buffalo State. The winner will travel to No. 2 Plattsburgh on Saturday.
Barring any upsets on Saturday, we could have another Oswego vs. Plattsburgh battle for the SUNYAC tournament championship on March 2.

Hello, Neumann

After surging back into the Division III Men’s Poll last weekend, the Neumann Knights ended the regular season with a sweep of struggling Nazareth.
Neumann (16-6-3, 8-6-3 in the ECAC West) earned the No. 3 seed in the ECAC West playoffs and hosts No. 6 Nazareth in the opening round on Wednesday.
Utica, meanwhile, clinched the league crown and earned the No. 1 seed in the ECAC West tournament. While Utica and No. 2 seed Hobart finished with the same record (11-3-1), the Pioneers took the conference title based on a tiebreaker.

Norwich set for title run

The battle between Norwich and Babson, two strong squads from the ECAC East, lived up to its billing on Friday with the teams skating to a 2-2 tie.
Norwich (21-2-1) ended the regular season on Saturday with a victory and sewed up the ECAC East title (16-1-1). Norwich enters the postseason as the No. 1 team in the poll, but can it finish on top when the D-III season ends on March 16?
Last year, the Cadets fell to St. Norbert in the national semifinals so they have to be giddy about a chance to avenge last season’s loss. The next few weeks will be very interesting across the D-III landscape.