West recap: Feb. 26

Championship weekend is set in the west region.

St. Thomas and Augsburg will square off in the MIAC final, while Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Eau Claire will battle for the WIAC crown.

Augsburg is back in the championship game of the conference tournament for a second consecutive season, but getting to the final was anything but easy, as they had to hold off a determined Saint Mary’s team to do it Saturday night. Augsburg won the thriller, 5-4, in overtime.

The Auggies faced adversity throughout the night, trailing 2-1 after one period and finding themselves in a 3-3 tie with the Cardinals after two periods of play. Augsburg actually trailed 3-1 in the second before rallying to tie the score.

Taylor Portner scored his second goal of the night to give the Cardinals a 4-3 advantage, but Chris Nuth struck for his first goal of the game to force overtime.

Nate Flynn took care of the rest, striking for the game-winner less than two minutes into the overtime. It was the only goal of the night for the Augsburg star, and also the only lead Augsburg ever had in the game.

To expect the game to go any differently would have been a little surprising. Augsburg and Saint Mary’s played two close games in the regular season, with the Auggies winning 4-3 and playing to a 5-5 overtime tie in the other matchup.

Nick Schmidt was phenomenal in goal, winning his ninth game of the year behind a 28-save effort. He is 9-1-2 on the season. Phil Heinle made 29 saves for the Cardinals, who end their year with a 13-10-3 record.

Augsburg held a 34-32 advantage in shots on a night when five different Auggies scored. Erick Brenk and Trevor Stewart both tallied a goal and an assist, and Andy Faust tallied two assists. Brenk has the second-most goals in the league with 16. The Auggies, who are 16-4-6 on the year, have scored a league-leading 103 goals on the year.

Portner scored twice in the loss for the Cardinals. He also dished out an assist.

St. Thomas and Concordia played a tight game as well Saturday, with the Tommies prevailing, 2-1. The Tommies scored twice on power plays to secure the semifinal win.

Johnny Panvica and Charlie Donlin both scored for St. Thomas, while Jeremy Johnson scored the lone goal for the Cobbers, who end the year with a 14-11-2 record. St. Thomas has scored 13 power-play goals in the last nine games.

The Cobbers reached the semifinal round with a 3-2 win over Hamline in a first-round showdown Thursday night.

St. Thomas improved to 14-10-4 overall and is unbeaten in its last four games. Panvica has played a pivotal role in the late-season success, scoring eight goals and dishing out six assists in the last eight games for St. Thomas.

The Tommies, the winners of the regular season title in the MIAC, will host the championship game Saturday night. They are searching for their first tourney crown since 2014. The Auggies are looking to repeat as tourney champs and return to the NCAA tournament.

The Tommies, who went 1-2 in the regular season against Concordia, are 10-2 at home and will be looking for their first win of the year against the Auggies. Augsburg defeated St. Thomas 5-3, and then played to a 6-6 tie in the second game.

Wis.-Stevens Point swept Wisconsin-Superior 5-1 and 8-1 over the weekend to punch a ticket to the WIAC title game next Saturday at home. The reigning conference and national champions held a 39-14 edge in shots in Friday’s opener. Jono Davis scored twice and Willem Nong-Lambert tallied a goal and an assist.

Jordan Neduzak scored the lone goal for the Yellow Jackets Friday.

The Pointers wrapped things up Saturday and also clinched their 20th win of the season. Wis.-Stevens Point has won at least 20 games in each of the last four years. Their win streak is now at seven games. Lawrence Cornellier played the biggest role in the victory, punching in four goals. Ryan Bittner dished out three assists. Tanner Karty scored two goals for the Pointers, who are 20-4-3. The four goals by Cornellier is a career high. Max Milosek made 44 saves in goal.

Bruno Birzitis tallied the lone goal for the Yellow Jackets, who end their year at 8-19-2.

Wis. Eau Claire rolled to a series sweep of Wisconsin-River Falls, winning 3-1 Friday and closing out the series with a 6-3 victory Saturday.

Alex Strand, Colton Wolter and Jake Hopfner all scored for the Blugolds in Friday’s win. Christian George scored the lone goal for the Falcons. Jay Deo was stellar in his 26th consecutive start of the season. He made 25 saves en route to earning his 17th win of the year.

The Blugolds clinched a berth in the WIAC title game with Saturday’s three-goal win. Wis.-Eau Claire scored twice in each of the three periods. The Blugolds trailed 2-1 after one period of play, but led 4-3 after two periods of action.

Garren Clemment scored twice in the win and Strand scored once for his second goal of the semifinal series. Deo started in goal and racked up 37 saves. He has 18 wins on the year.

Jeff Bergh, Mike Fazio and Kyle Gattelaro all scored for the Falcons, who end their year with a 12-13-2 record.

Wis.-Eau Claire is now 18-6-3 overall and has won its last two games. They are 6-4-2 in road games and will be searching for their first win of the season over Wis.-Stevens Point. The Blugolds lost 3-2 and 3-1 to the Pointers in the regular season.

Adrian will play for the Harris Cup for the ninth time in 10 years after fighting off Marian 2-1 Saturday in an NCHA semifinal showdown. Taylor McCloy paved the way as he scored a goal and dished out an assist for the Bulldogs, who are 19-5-2 on the season. Trevor Boyd scored the other Adrian goal. McCloy’s goal broke a 1-1 tie. It’s the sixth game-winning goal of his career and his 10th overall goal of the season. Boyd leads the team in goals with 16.

Jake Howie came through with the lone goal for the Sabres, who finish up at 15-10-2.

Kevin Entmaa made 15 saves to pick up his 14th win of the season. He has 28 career wins in just two seasons with the Bulldogs. Adrian has won the last two Harris Cup crowns and is hoping to three-peat when it battles St. Norbert Saturday night at home. The Bulldogs, winners of seven consecutive games, are 9-4-1 at home this season.

St. Norbert dominated St. Scholastica in their NCHA semifinal battle, rolling to a 4-0 victory. The Green Knights will face Adrian on the road for the third consecutive year. St. Norbert held a 36-14 advantage in shots and four different players scored for the Green Knights, who are 20-5-1 this season. The Saints end the year with a 13-13-1 record.

T.J. Black made 14 saves and recorded his sixth shutout of the season. That total is the most in NCAA Division III hockey this year. Ross Pavek, Riley Christensen, Tanner Froese, and Sean Campbell all scored for the Green Knights, who have won six of their last seven games.

St. Norbert defeated Adrian twice in the regular season, winning 3-1 and 4-2. Both of those wins for the 2016 national runner-up came at Adrian.

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