By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON – Peyton Frantti scored the winning goal with 3:10 left in overtime to give the St. Norbert College men’s hockey team a 4-3 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association victory over Aurora University Jan. 8 at the Cornerstone Community Ice Center.
“It was a great individual effort by (Adam) Stacho below the goal line,” St. Norbert College Assistant Head Coach Andy Brandt said. “He made a couple of cutbacks. We always talk about jamming pucks on net. He did that, and Frantti was Johnny-on-the-spot to put in the game-winner.”
The Green Knights have now won 11 straight games, with its last loss dating back to Nov. 6.
St. Norbert, the 12th-ranked team in Division III, outshot No. 11-ranked Aurora, 32-25.
Colby Entz got the win in net for the Green Knights with 22 saves, while Josh Boyko took the loss for the Spartans stopping 28 shots.
St. Norbert (12-3, 8-0 NCHA) got off to a flying start after Evan Cholak beat Boyko for an early 1-0 lead.
As the period wore on, the Green Knights continued to put pucks on net, and it paid off again.
With 3:01 left in the opening period, Michael McChesney tallied his first goal of the night for a 2-0 lead.
“We came out on our toes,” Brandt said. “We showed production depth, as our first 20 went well.”
Aurora came out of the first intermission with plenty more energy and poise.
Midway through the second period, Larry Jungwirth put the Spartans on the board when he scored from an improbable angle on the right boards.
The 4-on-4 goal cut St. Norbert’s lead in half heading into the second intermission.
The final 20 minutes consisted of high-level hockey between two nationally-ranked programs.
The Green Knights appeared to take control of the contest when Stacho scored to make it 3-1 with 11:59 remaining.
“(Stacho) is a player who has added lots to our group,” Brandt said. “He’s underrated in some of the things he does. He recovers pucks well. His first three strides to get away from guys are good.”
The Spartans, with their backs to the wall, scored 40 seconds later and then tacked on a third goal with 5:24 left to tie the game at 3-3.
“They got a non-traditional goal in the third with a puck going off Colby’s earhole,” Brandt said. “Aurora pushed back hard, and good things come about when you are detailed. They floated a forward out in the neutral zone, and it confused our guys a bit. It tilted the ice their way as they evened the game.”
Jack Kelly got one final attempt from the blue line for St. Norbert with seconds remaining, but Boyko turned the shot away.
It appeared Aurora had the momentum with its back-to-back goals, as the teams took to the ice for 3-on-3 overtime hockey.
However, Frantti saved the day for the Green Knights when he slapped home the game-winner, setting off a celebratory St. Norbert bench.
“We practice the overtime format quite a bit in practice,” Brandt said. “We see what kind of rotation works and which guys use the open ice to their advantage.”
The Green Knights will look to keep their winning streak alive when they travel to Chicago to take on Lake Forest College Jan. 14-15.