Time for drama as the NCHA comes down to talented foursome

St. Norbert looks to score early and often this weekend against Lake Forest in an NCHA semifinal (photo: St. Norbert College Athletics).

The four top-seeded teams earned their way to the NCHA Harris Cup playoffs semifinals, some of them in more dramatic fashion than others.

Let’s recap:


St. Norbert swept Lawrence in the quarterfinal round in a convincing fashion. On Friday night, the Green Knights shut out the Vikings 5-0 as junior goaltender David Jacobson earned his sixth shutout of the season.

On Saturday night, the top-seeded Green Knights claimed their spot in the Harris Cup semifinals, downing the Vikings 3-1. Junior defenseman Marian Fiala had a goal and an assist in the contest. Fiala contributed a pair of assists in Friday’s game as well.

The second-seeded Adrian Bulldogs posted a shutout on Friday night against old MCHA rival, the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Junior forward Shelby Gray tallied two goals in the 3-0 win.

Junior forward Josh Ranalli notched two goals for the Bulldogs in Saturday’s game. The 4-1 victory cleared a spot in the Harris Cup semis for Adrian.

Marian earned its first postseason win in three seasons on Friday night as the Sabres downed fourth-seeded Lake Forest 3-2. The Sabres scored a goal in each period. Lake Forest, who was the host of the quarterfinal series, tried third-period heroics, but their two goals were not enough.

Senior goaltender Josh Baker made an outstanding 44 saves for the Sabres.

On Saturday, the Foresters battled to a 3-2 overtime win. Marian freshman forward Jacob Ryd scored the game-tying goal with 5:56 left in regulation. Junior forward Jason McAloon scored the overtime goal for Lake Forest, sending the teams to a 20-minute mini-game to decide who would move on to the Harris Cup semifinals.

Sophomore defenseman Ben Certo scored the lone goal in the mini-game, extending the Foresters’ season past the weekend.

There was less than six minutes left in regulation when freshman forward Derek Sutliffe scored to give St. Scholastica a 1-0 win over Concordia (Wis.), as sophomore goaltender Tyler Bruggeman earned his first shutout of the season.

On Saturday night, the Saints put together a 9-4 win, matching their season-high goal output from Jan. 31 when they beat Northland 9-2. Senior forward Brandon Nowakowski caught the hat trick, helping his team get to the Harris Cup semifinal round.


Fourth-seed Lake Forest will travel to top-seed St. Norbert, while third-seed St. Scholastica makes the trip to second-seed Adrian.

The semifinals are single-game elimination, with the winner in each game heading to the Harris Cup final on March 8.

Lake Forest and St. Norbert played a home-and-home series earlier this season. The Green Knights held the Foresters to just two goals as they won 9-1 and 4-1.

Adrian traveled to St. Scholastica in January. The first game of the series saw the two talented teams end in a 1-1 overtime tie. The second game of the series again saw overtime, with the Bulldogs getting the 4-3 victory.

All in all, it has been an action-packed Harris Cup playoffs and I imagine the semifinals will be no different.

Stay tuned next week for an in-depth look at the Harris Cup championship contest.