LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Just after one of the craziest NCAA tournament games ever played where St. Norbert outlasted Massachusetts-Boston in double overtime 8-7, senior Frankie DeAugustine, who had a four point night in his final game, sat at the microphone.
He noted “that they didn’t achieve their final goal but they could be satisfied with how far this team had come.”
That acknowledgement of how far this team had come was also noted in the victors’ news conference where St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin wanted everyone to know just how far the Beacons had come as a program in making their first Frozen Four.
“Our fans and people in Wisconsin were all asking who is UMass-Boston,” said Coghlin. “I have watched them from a distance since we don’t cross over regions and have seen what Peter Belisle has built. We have had some contentious battles with Norwich over the years and know how good they and Babson are — these guys took them out in the regular season.
“Then they travel to take on the defending national champions from Trinity and hang a 4-0 loss on them. And then they go to Hobart, the No. 1 seed in the East and shut them out 2-0. They have built a strong program with some great talent. Other people may not have known about them but we did and we didn’t take them lightly at all.”
The special group of seniors brought in to rebuild the program leave with many great achievements on their resume including a first conference title and playoff win over rival and travel partner Babson; their first NCAA appearance and NCAA tournament wins over Trinity and Hobart; and a Frozen Four appearance that had them all so close to playing for the national title.
“I can’t say enough about this group of players,” Belisle said. “They came here as the foundation to build a winning program and have been through a lot but have succeeded and set a benchmark for all future teams and players here to try and meet or hopefully better. I know I have a group of friends with a strong common bond for the rest of my life and while we wish we could have scored one more and played just one more game, I am forever grateful for what they have done for themselves, the program and each other.”
While star players Matt Lemire (two goals) and DeAugustine (four points) have been key contributors, the late-game heroics of senior goalie Zach Andrews really showcased Belisle’s acknowledgement of the seniors’ commitment to the program and each other — something he is sure has translated down in their actions to the underclassmen who will carry forward their teachings.
“Zach is a very good goalie,” Belisle said. “It has to be hard when you play all 25 games as a freshman and then we bring in another kid [Billy Faust] who plays for the next three years and got us to where we are. Don’t forget Zach was 7-0 for us this season. He was always prepared to do anything for the team and be ready when we needed him. Tonight, he was ready when we put him in to start the third period and he made some huge saves to help us with our comeback in the third period and kept us in the overtime sessions. That sacrifice and commitment is so much a part of all our seniors. I will miss them all immensely.”
This season may be over but the legacy of this senior class will be one of historic success and recognition that the Beacons are a team to be reckoned with for years to come.