St. Norbert triumphs at NCAA Hockey Championship
Behind a defensive effort unprecedented in NCAA Division III history, the Green Knights ice hockey team has claimed its first national championship. St. Norbert triumphed with a 2-0 win over Plattsburgh State University at historic Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.
The Green Knights, who beat Norwich University 3-0 in the national semifinals, became the first team in NCAA Division III history to post shutouts in both games in the NCAA Frozen Four. St. Norbert finished the year allowing just 43 goals in 32 games, with its scoring defense of 1.34 goals allowed per game setting an NCAA Division III record. Middlebury’s 1.47 scoring defense in 2006 was the previous standard.
St. Norbert finished the year 27-1-4, becoming just the third team in NCAA Division III history to finish a season with just one loss—and the first one-loss team to win a national championship. The Green Knights will also carry a 29-game unbeaten streak into the 2008-09 season.
And St. Norbert head coach
Tim Coghlin has become the first person in NCAA Division III history to play on, and coach, a national men’s ice hockey championship-winning team. Coghlin was the captain of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s 1989 national championship squad.
At this year’s championship game March 23, the Green Knights survived an early Plattsburgh flurry in the first period to end the first 20 minutes of action scoreless.
St. Norbert scored 5 minutes 53 seconds into the second period when
Scott Pulak ’11 deflected a
Nick Tabisz ’11 shot past Cardinals goaltender Bryan Hince.
The Green Knights pushed the bulge out to 2-0 when
Marc Belanger ’08 scored his 23rd goal of the season at 10:25 of the second on a wicked wristshot from just inside the blue line directly in front of the goal. After two Plattsburgh skaters collided, Belanger was free and took a pass from
Matt Boyd ’10. Belanger, who was stopped on a drive from the slot in the first period, fired a laser past Hince top-shelf.
From there, St. Norbert’s penalty kill would do most of the heavy lifting.
Peter Fylling ’10 took a five-minute major checking from behind penalty at 13:57 of the second period. The Green Knights killed off the penalty despite five Cardinal shots.
St. Norbert would have a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period that carried over into the third, but would not score.
Plattsburgh would get two power-play opportunities in the third period but did not score. The Cardinals also had the last 2:30 of the game with an extra attacker, but could not solve St. Norbert goaltender
Kyle Jones ’08.
Jones finished his stellar career with a 32-save shutout—his 10th shutout of the season and the 25th of his career. Jones finished the 2007-08 season with a glittering 1.09 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage—both NCAA Division III single-season records.
Jones, the 2008 NCAA Division III Player of the Year, finished one of the greatest careers in Division III hockey history with an 87-10-8 record, .926 save percentage and 1.61 goals-against average.
Belanger, St. Norbert’s only other senior, ended his 119-game career with 62 goals and 70 assists for 132 points. His career scoring is seventh all-time in school history, and his goals scored are fourth all-time in St. Norbert annals.
St. Norbert’s championship now gives the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association its fifth different NCAA Division III national champion—joining Bemidji State (1986), UW-River Falls (1988, 1994), UW-Stevens Point (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993) and UW-Superior (2002). It is also the first national championship for a Midwest Conference member school, St. Norbert’s conference for all other sports.