The field is set for this weekend’s Frozen Four in Lake Placid.
Lots of great stories among the four entrants that include perennial national title contender St. Norbert, last year’s finalist looking for a better outcome in Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a team with a cause in Geneseo and this year’s first-time participant, Massachusetts-Boston.
All four earned their way in against high-caliber competition, so here is a summary of Saturday night’s quarterfinal action.
Geneseo keeps roll going, downs Williams
The game played out as billed by the coaches — a tight defensive game that was not likely to feature a lot of scoring, largely based on the strong play of freshman goaltenders Michael Pinios for Williams and Devin McDonald for Geneseo.
While the big guns for both teams were largely held in check, it was secondary scoring that made the difference for the Knights as Arthur Gordon scored twice in the first period with a pair of assists from linemate Brodie Tutton and the two goals stood up as enough behind McDonald’s 31 saves for a 2-1 win.
McDonald yielded just one goal in the third period as Williams furiously battled to level the score, launching 14 shots in the final period. McDonald, despite being run into the net and the back boards on a crease collision defending a Williams breakaway, shook off the obvious pain and finished strong after surrendering Colby Cretellla’s goals just four seconds after the Ephs’ final power play expired midway through the third period.
Pinios finished with 24 saves for Williams and kept his team in it with several big saves in the final 40 minutes but the power play finished 0-for-3 and the third period assault on McDonald couldn’t net the equalizer. The win for the Knights earns them their second trip to the Frozen Four in the last three seasons.
“I can’t wait,” said Geneseo coach Chris Schultz. “The first time is a really special event. You don’t know what to expect. Everything is new. With this being our second time in three years, it’s a different mission now. We’re going to go to win. Last time we were kind of enjoying the process. The players we have in our room and the amount of adversity they faced this year, there’s more to it than just going to the Frozen Four. It’s going there to win hockey games.”
(Ed. Note: Special thanks to USCHO’s Russell Jaslow for the post-game quote from Schultz)
Massachusetts-Boston blanks Hobart
Every tournament needs and loves a Cinderella story and the Beacons would be happy to find the slipper fits following their 2-0 upset road win over Hobart on Saturday night.
The Beacons were outshot 42-29 for the game, including 16-4 in the third period, but took advantage of a power-play goal from leading scorer Matt Lemire in the second period and a third period insurance goal from Mike Thomson for the two-goal cushion that senior Billy Faust made stand up for the win and first ever trip to the Frozen Four in their first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
“I thought we came out nervous in the first period,” noted UMass Boston coach Peter Belisle. “I went into the locker room at the break and said we had come to far this season to play nervous now and I thought we really responded in that second period and outplayed them.”
Faust was solid all game as he has been in the post-season. In the two games of the NCAA tournament, the senior has a combined 79 saves and a perfect save percentage in recording back-to-back shutouts over Trinity and Hobart in the two road wins.
While Hobart was unable to cash in on a first period power-play opportunity, the Beacons scored the only goal they ultimately would need. With Jon Neal serving a minor for interference, Lemire cashed in at the nine-minute mark of the second period with assists from Albee Daley and Frankie DeAugustine.
“The coaching staff was talking before the game how big it would be if Matty [Lemire] could score early for us,” said Belisle. “It wasn’t early, but that goal was a big lift for Matt and a huge lift for our team — you could see the energy on the bench right away. I thought Matt was one of the best players on the ice for us all night and that goal was huge for him and the team.”
With the Statesmen pressing for the equalizing goal, Thomson took advantage of a Hobart turnover and beat netminder Lino Chimienti on a partial breakaway at the 12-minute mark of the third period for a much-needed insurance goal. The goal came just after a Hobart shot rang off the crossbar on a deflection in front of Faust.
That is all Faust needed as he stopped all 16 Hobart shots in the final period and the Beacons celebrated knocking off the top-seeded team in the East.
“Billy is just so calm in there,” stated Belisle. “During that first timeout, he came over to the bench and was laughing and joking with our team manager on the bench. He is just very composed and in a zone and I think the team feeds off that relaxed confidence.”
Green Knights cruise past Auggies
For the 10th time in program history St. Norbert is headed to the final four.
The Green Knights secured the bid with a dominating 6-1 win over Augsburg Saturday night in a national quarterfinal game at the Cornerstone Community Center.
St. Norbert will play UMass Boston in a national semifinal game Friday, looking to clinch a spot in the championship game for the first time since 2014, which is also the last year the Green Knights won the title.
Augsburg, in the tourney for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign, led 1-0 early on a goal by Trevor Stewart.
But it was all St. Norbert after that.
Pijus Rulevicius tied the game at 1-1 and eventually scored a second goal, pushing his season total to 15 goals.
Ross Pavek broke the 1-1 tie to put St. Norbert in front for good. Pavek scored a second time in the game as well and also dished out an assist. Riley Christiansen also struck for a pair of goals while also tallying two assists in the win.
The Green Knights dominated offensively, outshooting the Auggies 40-16 as they improved to 24-3-2 on the season. Tony Kujava did his part on defense as he made 15 saves and improved to 15-1-1 this year.
St. Norbert went 2-for-6 on the power play, while Augsburg came up short on all four of its power-play chances. The Auggies, the champions of the MIAC this season, finish the year with a 17-9-2 record.
Pointers head back to final four, beat Adrian
Stevens Point has been the national runner-up the last two seasons. The Pointers want to finish the job this time and will get another shot at the title this weekend after knocking off top-ranked Adrian 5-2 Saturday night.
The Pointers are in the final four for the third consecutive year and for the 12th time in program history. The win was their third in a row.
Stevens Point trailed 1-0 early after a goal by Taylor McCloy, his 12th of the season.
Jono Davis tied the game at 1-1, but Adrian went back in front 2-1 in the first period after another goal by McCloy.
Lawrence Cornellier tied the game at 2-2 and it was all Pointers after that.
Jacob Barber broke the tie with just 11 seconds left in the second period before Stevens Point scored a pair of empty-net goals late in the third to seal the deal. Cornellier and Kyle Sharkey both scored to finish off the win for the Pointers, who are now 22-5-2 on the season. The road win was their 13th of the year away from home.
Max Milosek made 40 saves to pick up his 16th win of the year. Kevin Entmaa, who came in as the only undefeated goaltender in college hockey, tallied 35 saves. He finishes his first season with the Bulldogs with a 14-1 record.
Adrian had its seven-game win streak snapped and lost its first home game of the season. The Bulldogs, who won the NCHA championship, end the year with a 24-4-1 record.
Friday’s matchups in Lake Placid are set with Geneseo facing Stevens Point in one semifinal, while UMass Boston faces St. Norbert in the other semifinal — four teams all with a chance to win the national championship in a place where the biggest of dreams can happen.