Longtime coach is now winning hockey coach in D-III history
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – This night belonged to Tim Coghlin.
With the St. Norbert College hockey team’s 3-1 victory over Finlandia University on Nov. 19, the Green Knights’ head coach moved into the record books.
Coghlin, in his 29th season behind the bench at St. Norbert, became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III history with the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) win.
True to his character, Coghlin, who won his 625th career game as coach, deflected the spotlight to his team.
“I didn’t even know what happened (with the win),” he said. “It’s a longevity award, I suspect — it means I’ve been coaching for a while. I’ve just stayed focused on how my team is playing.”
Coghlin passed Bob Emery’s 624 wins from 1989-2019 with Plattsburgh State.
“We’ve seen a lot of teams come through these doors — playing in all types of arenas and venues,” Coghlin said. “It’s about the team.”
In front of a sparse crowd at the Cornerstone Community Center in Ashwaubenon, the Green Knights moved to 5-0-1 overall and 4-0 in the NCHA.
“We’re going to make our fair share of mistakes, and we’re going to ask our goalies to bail us out,” Coghlin said. “Through six games, that’s what we’ve seen. It’s good to see different guys step up. In some cases, we need more from some of our guys.”
In his third game of the season, St. Norbert goalie Johnny Roberts didn’t have to make many saves, but he was solid in the net — giving up only one late goal in 13 shots on goal.
St. Norbert’s other goalie, Colby Entz, has also started three times.
“We offered Johnny and Colby in the spring that it would be an open competition,” Coghlin said. “From the very first day of practice, they’ve been even. It’s not my favorite thing (to rotate goalies), but it does work under the right circumstances — we’ll see going forward.”
Five minutes into the game, Roberts made a big save from point-blank range to keep things scoreless.
With three minutes remaining in the opening period, the contest got interesting.
The Lions (0-6-1, 0-4) went on a 5-on-3 power play after St. Norbert crosschecking and bench minor penalties.
Finlandia had one shot carom off the post, but the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes of play.
“We’d prefer to play 5-on-5 hockey all the time,” Coghlin said. “It felt like the cards were stacked against us tonight — we have to figure out our penalty count because we’re taking more penalties than our opponents. That will be the death of us if we can’t figure it out.”
Coghlin took part of the blame for the 5-on-3 situation late in the first period.
“The referee called an embellishment penalty the night before on our player, and I looked at (one of the penalties tonight) and said, ‘Is that the same embellishment you called against us the night before?’” Coghlin said. “Tone, how you say something and language matter — none of
that happened, at least from my perspective.”
The Green Knights, which beat Finlandia 7-0 the night before, had their own 5-on-3 power play early in the second period but failed to score.
Almost halfway through the game, Adam Stacho scored an unassisted goal on the power play during a scrum in front of the Finlandia net for a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, Ben Schmidling scored off assists from Michael McChesney and Liam Fraser for a 2-0 lead.
St. Norbert ended its scoring two minutes into the third period on a Fraser goal on the power play — McChesney and Brendan Aird assisted on the goal.
“We’ve recommitted ourselves to our defense,” Coghlin said. “We had five periods and 59 minutes of shutout hockey on the weekend, but we gave up one late.”
The Lions scored with 38 seconds remaining on the power play.
In six games this season, the Green Knights have allowed only nine goals.
St. Norbert outshot the Lions, 42-13.
The Green Knights are back in action Nov. 25-26 when they host the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in a pair of nonconference games at Cornerstone.