Overtime goal from Mark lifts St. Norbert over Aurora
By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON – Brendan Mark scored with 38 seconds remaining in overtime to give the No. 6-ranked St. Norbert College men’s hockey team a 5-4 Harris Cup semifinal victory over No. 14 Aurora University Feb. 26.
The Northern Collegiate Hockey Association game was played at the Cornerstone Community Ice Center.
With the victory, the Green Knights advanced to face the top overall seed, Adrian College, in the Harris Cup final March 5 for the automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Hockey Tournament.
St. Norbert jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead before Aurora came roaring back.
“When you lead a hockey game 3-0, you’re feeling good,” St. Norbert Assistant Head Coach Andy Brandt said. The Aurora team is a momentum group. They push the pace, and they cashed in goals. The resolve of our group was good. We stuck with the process and felt good about the overtime.”
The Green Knights got off to a red-hot start and looked like they might run away from the Spartans.
Tim Nicksic made a nifty move around an Aurora defender and sent a cross to Adam Stacho who scored to give St. Norbert a 1-0 lead 90 seconds into the game.
“(Stacho) competes hard every game,” Brandt said. “He wins 50/50 pucks.”
About halfway through the first period, the Spartans took back-to-back penalties to give the Green Knights a 5-on-3 power play.
With time running down on the two-man advantage, Ben Schmidling put in a rebound for a 2-0 lead.
Despite going down a man a couple of minutes later, Michael McChesney found a lane and beat Aurora goalie Josh Boyko for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
It appeared St. Norbert was in complete control of the game.
That all changed four minutes into the middle period.
Aurora’s Larry Jungwirth got behind the Green Knights’ defense and lit the lamp to make it 3-1.
Less than a minute later, Matt Weber scored for the Spartans, and suddenly, it was a 3-2 game.
After an exchange of goals, St. Norbert took a precarious 4-3 lead into the final period.
Each team had good chances in the third period, but Aurora’s Riley Doyon tied the game at 4-4 with 5:44 left.
St. Norbert had a final chance to win the game in regulation after an Aurora boarding penalty set up a 5-on-4 advantage, but the Spartans fought it off to force extra time.
In the extra session, it took 19 minutes and 22 seconds before Mark took a puck from the right wing and sent in a blistering slapshot that found the back of the net, sending the team and crowd into pandemonium.
“Anytime (Mark) lines up for a slapper, it has a chance of going in,” Brandt said. “He has an absolute laser. He puts everything into his shots. He picked a top-corner for the game-winner.”
Each team registered 43 shots on goal, with Boyko stopping 38 shots for Aurora and Colby Entz making 39 saves for St. Norbert.