St. Norbert College hockey returns to NCAA championship game at the Frozen Four

From , March 16, 2012
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, 920-403-4077

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - St. Norbert College returns to the championship game of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four for the third consecutive year and for the sixth time in nine years following an impressive 4-1 win over Norwich University at Herb Brooks Arena.

The Green Knights (20-5-5) shut down the nation's top scoring team, allowing the Cadets (24-3-2) only a 4-on-3 power-play goal with 5:27 left to play. St. Norbert, ranked No. 5 in the most recent USCHO.com Division III Poll, will face Oswego State or Amherst at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday for the national championship. No. 1-ranked Norwich ends its season 24-3-2. The game marked the first time St. Norbert has beaten the No. 1-ranked team in the USCHO Poll, going 0-4 previously.

St. Norbert jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a power-play goal by Joe Perry with 1:40 left in the frame. Johan Ryd's initial shot caromed to Perry, who converted his shot from a tough angle near the goal line.

The Green Knights pushed ahead 2-0 at 11:45 of the second period. Chris Rial's deke of Norwich goaltender Parker Carroll from straight out front found a clear net.

St. Norbert extended its lead to 3-0 at 4:56 of the third period. Marian Fiala's drive from the blue line was deflected out front by Seth Soley, who redirect was good for the power-play goal.

A couple of scrums later in the third period put St. Norbert on a 4-on-3 penalty-killing situation. Blake Forkey's power-play goal with 5:27 left cut the Cadets' deficit to 3-1. Norwich pulled Carroll with 1:38 to go, and the Green Knights were fingered for a too many men penalty with 39 seconds remaining. St. Norbert cleared the puck the length of the ice, but no Norwich players cycled back with icing waved off and Kyle Stroh's shorthanded empty-net goal closed out the game.

St. Norbert freshman goaltender David Jacobson turned in a memorable performance in his first Frozen Four start, the first time a freshman has started in net for the Green Knights this late in the season. Jacobson made 26 saves, including a shorthanded one-on-the-goaltender stop with the Green Knights nursing a 2-0 lead.

Jacobson and the Green Knights held Norwich to 1-for-8 on the penalty kill, a Cadets unit who was averaging a robust 30.8 percent with the man advantage entering the game. The Green Knights' power-play unit stayed hot, converting 2 of 5 chances. St. Norbert is 15-for-36 (41.7 percent) on the power play in its last six games.

Norwich outshot St. Norbert 27-23, but the Green Knights held a 10-7 edge in the first period and shots were even at 9-9 in the third period.