St. Norbert advances to NCAA Division III National Tournament
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – The St. Norbert College men’s hockey team is back in familiar territory.
The No. 3-ranked Green Knights (22-4-3) received the automatic bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament with a 4-1 victory over Adrian College (20-8-1) in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup Finals March 2 at the Cornerstone Community Center.
St. Norbert would have likely received an at-large bid had they lost, but winning the postseason title left no doubt.
“This group has been good all year, so it feels great,” said St. Norbert assistant coach Andy Brandt. “We went through some learning moments early in the season.”
The Green Knights, which have won 13 games in a row, will find out their tournament fate Monday morning.
“We have talked about the ability to play in big games and play with confidence,” Brandt said. “If you look at some of our losses during the year, we learned from them. We came out and played a great 60 minutes of hockey tonight.”
The NCHA championship tilt was the fifth straight year the teams have met to decide the automatic bid.
The Green Knights will be looking to defend their national championship from last season.
It will be the 19th time St. Norbert will be participating in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
“We won’t worry too much about who we play,” said Brandt. “We feel that when we play our brand of hockey, we can play with anyone.”
The Green Knights used a three-goal third period and the strong play of goalie T.J. Black to turn a close game into a comfortable victory.
Black, who made 32 saves, was named the NCHA Harris Cup Playoffs most valuable player.
The Green Knights got on the board with a Timmy Nicksic goal at the 16:35 mark of the opening period.
Nicksic jammed in a puck after a scrum in front of Adrian goalie Kevin Entmaa.
St. Norbert went up 2-0 on Riley Christensen’s power-play goal 39 seconds into the third period before Peter Bates made it 3-1 with 3:35 left.
Nicksic added his second of the night with an empty-net tally late in the game to complete the scoring.
“Timmy has a great skill set,” added Brandt. “When he is competing hard like he always does, he’s hard to stop. If you look at his first goal, he went hard to the net and put one in off the rebound.”
In addition to T.J. Black, Frantti, Nicksic and Brendon Gysbers were named to the all-tournament team.
Adrian College: 0, 0, 1 – 1
St. Norbert College: 1, 0, 3 – 4
First period: 1, SNC, Timmy Nicksic (Steven Phillips), 16:25.
Second period: No scoring.
Third period: 2, SNC, Riley Christensen (Roman Uchyn, Brendon Gysbers), 0:39 (pp); 3, AC, Vincent Paquette (unassisted), 9:10; 4, SNC, Peter Bates (Peyton Frantti, Kurt Black), 16:25; 5, SNC, Nicksic (K. Black, Frantti), 19:39 (en).
Shots on goal: AC, 7-9-16 – 32; SNC, 13-14-9 – 36.
Goalies: AC, Kevin Entmaa (35 shots, 32 saves); SNC, T.J. Black (32 shots, 31 saves).
Power-play opportunities: AC, 0-for-3; SNC, 1-for-4.
Penalties: AC, 4-8; SNC, 4-8.