This Week in College Hockey: D-III West teams competing for conference titles have momentum on their side

Wisconsin-Stevens Point is unbeaten in its last 15 games and is looking for another WIAC crown. (Photo by Heather Foster)

Four wins in a row for St. Thomas, Concordia and St. Norbert.

Nine wins in a row for Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Twelve consecutive wins for Adrian. Wisconsin-Eau Claire has won its last two games.

Momentum is eveything and every team has it in some form heading into conference championship weekend in the west region. Only time will tell which teams are able to ride that momentum to a title.

Check out a quick preview below.


Concordia (14-10-2) vs. St. Thomas (14-10-3) 

Concordia and St. Thomas aren’t strangers when it comes to playing in the MIAC tournament.

The Cobbers beat the Tommies in 1987 and in 2000 to win titles and wouldn’t mind seeing history repeat itself this weeekend. 

St. Thomas has also defeated Concordia for a title, winning it all in 1999 over the Cobbers in the championship game.

The winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.

Concordia and St. Thomas split their series in the regular season. The Cobbers are led by Tyler Bossert and Aaron Herdt. Bosser has dished out 20 assists while scoring six goals and Herdt has punched in eight goals to go along with eight assists. 

Jacob Stephan has started 17 games in goal, allowing 39 goals and making 410 saves. He is 10-6-1. 

Brett Gravelle has played an instrumental role in the Tommies’ success, scoring 10 goals and dishing out 14 assists. John Peterson has tallied eight goals and 11 assists.

Henry Baribeau and Camden Buggrabe have both seen significant time in goal. Baribeau earned the win in the semifinal game against Saint John’s and sports a 7-3-1 record. He has given up just 24 goals and has made 307 saves.

UW-Stevens Point (18-6-3) vs. UW-Eau Claire (21-4-2)

Two rivals meet again, and this time a WIAC title is on the line.

The Pointers have gone unbeaten in their last 15 games and have lost just once since December. They lead the league in goals scored (114) and feature the second-leading scorer in the conference in Luke McElhenie, who has come through with 17 goals and 18 assists. Zach Zech is fifth in scoring at 16 goals and 14 assists.

The Blugolds are second in goals scored, tallying 99, and they also lead the WIAC in fewest goals allowed, giving up only 44. The Pointers have allowed 63.

Speaking of defense, the title game could come down to it. Eli Billing and Zach Dyment are two of the best between the pipes. Billing has made 552 saves while Dyment has tallied 506. Dyment leads the WIAC in shutouts (6) and Billing is second with three.

Two of the three games between these teams ended with a UW-Stevens Point win. The Pointers and Blugolds skated to a 3-3 tie the third time. The Pointers have had the better fortune against the Blugolds in the history of their rivarly, winning 83 games in all against them. They are 10-1-3 in the last 14 against UW-Eau Claire.

Adrian (20-5-3) vs. St. Norbert (17-9-2)

Adrian is coming off its 11th regular-season conference title and now wants the tourney crown to put another punctuation mark on what has been a tremendous year for the Bulldogs.

During their current win streak, the Bulldogs have scored 69 goals while giving up just 29. They face a familiar foe in the NCHA final in St. Norbert and are looking to end the Green Knights’ three-year run as the champions of the conference tourney. All three titles came at the expense of the Bulldogs, who last won a title in 2016 by beating St. Norbert.

The top five in points in the conference all play for either Adrian or St. Norbert, which means this game could end up a high-scoring affair.

Peter Bates of St. Norbert leads the way with 40 points, including 25 off assists, teammate Kurt Black is the leading goal scorer (21). Dino Balsamo of Adrian is second in both points (38) and goals (19).

The Green Knights happen to have the top goalie in the NCHA in Coby Entz. He sports a 1.81 goals against average and has saved 93 percent of the shots he’s faced.

Cameron Gray has seen most of the time in goal for Adrian this season, starting 23 games, and he has a 2.58 GAA while making 514 saves.

When the Bulldogs and Green Knights played in the regular season, they ended up splitting their series. Adrian lost the first game 1-0 but haven’t lost since, igniting their 12-game win streak with a 3-2 victory over the Green Knights in the finale.