Raiders and Sabres advance to title round of NCHA tourney

Marian advanced to the championship series and will play MSOE next weekend for the title. (Photo courtesy of Marian Athletics)

When the NCHA tournament championship is played next weekend, it will have a different look than what the league has become accustomed to in recent years.

Since 2013, either Adrian or St. Norbert has won the title. But that will change this coming week as the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Marian will play for the right to hoist the Harris Cup.

MSOE last won a title in 2012 and punched its ticket with a 3-1 win over top-seeded and reigning champion Adrian Saturday.

Marian is headed to the championship game for the first time since 2011 after beating St. Scholastica 5-3 Saturday in the semifinal round.

Bouncing back

On Friday night, MSOE allowed Adrian to erase a 3-0 lead as the opener of their semifinal series ended in a 3-3 overtime tie.

The Raiders made sure it kept the lead once it got on Saturday.

Nigel Nelson scored less than two minutes into the second period to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead and Matt Hanewall scored with under five minutes to play in the period to take a 2-0 lead.

Andrew Bellant cut the lead to 2-1 with his goal at the 5:17 mark of the third period. Jeff Makowski answered, though, three minutes later to give the Raiders a 3-1 advantage.

They are headed to the championship round for the first time since 2013 when it lost to Adrian in the final.

Cameron Gray made 27 saves to help the Raiders survive and advance. MSOE is 10-5-2 on the season. The Raiders take a seven-game unbeaten streak into the championship series.

Finding a way

Nothing came easy for Marian in its semifinal series against St. Scholastica. The Sabres trailed 2-1 and and 3-2 before finally getting control to punch their ticket to the final.

The score was tied at 2-2 going into the third before the Saints took the lead one last time on a goal by Nathan Adrian just 10 seconds into the period.

Ty Enns scored his second goal of the night a little over eight minutes later, tying the score at 3-3. The Sabres added two goals in the final four minutes of action to seal the deal. Brady Pupp scored the game-winner at the 16:37 mark and Parker Colley punched in an insurance goal in the final minute.

Colby Mulse made 34 saves for the Sabres, who are now set to host the championship series for the first time since 2004.

Marian, which beat St. Scholastica 6-3 in the opener of the semifinal series Friday,  is 10-7 overall and has won its last four games. 

During the regular season, MSOE and Marian did not play. The two teams are set to begin their championship series March 19th.