The semifinal games had interesting coaching matchups. The first game had two first-year coaches and one with the “interim” label in front of his title, while the second game had coaches with many years of experience.
Zech Klann took the job at Salve Regina before the season started. Though Salve Regina did make the NCAA playoffs two years ago by winning the Commonwealth Coast Conference, then losing to Geneseo, 7-1, this was by far their most successful season in school history.
A national runner-up and an overall record of 22-6-2.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point needed a new coach at the last minute. They tabbed Tyler Krueger, the associate head coach at the time, and slapped the “interim” label on him. He had just recently played for Wis.-Stevens Point and was the captain of the 2014 national runner-up team.
He promptly took that “interim” label and guided his team right back to the national semifinal before losing to Salve Regina, 3-0.
He never worried about the “interim” label and what his future held.
“I’m living day-to-day, just like all these guys,” Krueger said. “I preach to them they have to control what they can control. Everything else to them is out of their control. The team did that, and I’m no different. I’ve grown a ton this year. It’s been a blast. It’s out of my hands at this point. I did everything I can to put myself in that position. Whatever happens, happens.”
The second semifinal saw the complete opposite coaching pedigree.
Colby’s Blaise MacDonald has coached college hockey for a long time. He started at Niagara University when the program was created, transitioning it from Division III to Division I, where he led them to the NCAA quarterfinal round. After five years, he went to Massachusetts-Lowell for 10 seasons.
He has now been at Colby for six years. This season, Colby made it to the national semifinal game for the first time ever before losing to St. Norbert, 4-3.
Thursday night, MacDonald won the Edward Jeremiah Award as the CCM/AHCA Division III Men’s Coach of the Year.
The most successful coach in the semifinals in terms of national championships is St. Norbert’s Tim Coghlin. His entire 25-year coaching stint has been with the Green Knights, where he has won five national championships.
This is the sixth time an NCAA Division III championship game has gone to overtime. And it is the third time St. Norbert has been involved. The Green Knights finally won their first one tonight, 3-2, over Salve Regina at 9:42 of the second overtime.
They lost a 1-0 affair to Middlebury in 2004 in short fashion at 2:58.
St. Norbert lost their second overtime contest, 2-1, to Norwich in a marathon affair in 2010. The game lasted till 19:29 of the second overtime, the longest final contest. Thus, St. Norbert has been involved in the only two double overtime finals.
The first NCAA overtime final game was in 1993, when Wisconsin-Stevens Point beat Wisconsin-River Falls, 4-3.
Wisconsin-Superior defeated Norwich, 3-2, in 2002. Wis.-Superior tied the game with 1:26 left in regulation with their goalie pulled. Then, the Yellowjackets won it just 23 seconds into the extra period, by far the shortest overtime final.
Oswego won their only national championship with a 4-3 overtime win against Middlebury in 2007.
Without a “local” team in this year’s championship weekend, Lake Placid recorded its lowest attendance as a host site. They reported 1,762 for the semifinals and 1,830 for the final.
Next season, as well as 2021, will see the championship return to campus sites, alternating with neutral sites (Buffalo’s HarborCenter in 2020 and back in Lake Placid in 2022).