Dustin Walz '11, Adam Hammerbeck '11 and Taylor Langford '11 with the NCAA Division III Championship trophy.
National champs again!
St. Norbert College claimed its second men’s ice hockey national championship with a 4-3 win over Adrian College at the NCAA Division III Frozen Four at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena.
The Green Knights, who also won the national crown in 2008, finished the year 25-4-1. Adrian, which carried an 18-game unbeaten streak into the final, also finished 25-4-1.
The team returned home to be greeted with an outpouring of Green Knight pride and a Thursday-night celebration in Schuldes.
Green Knights take the early lead
The national title was secured when the Green Knights scored the last marker in a seven-goal sequence that had teams alternating the scoring. Senior defenseman Nick Tabisz, a three-time first team All-America selection, blasted a power-play bomb from the right circle at the 15:26 mark for what would hold up as the game-winning score. It was Tabisz’s fourth goal of the five-game St. Norbert post-season.
St. Norbert’s defense locked down high-flying Adrian in the third period, with each team only getting five shots on net. The Green Knights blocked a whopping 14 shots in the game, including five in the third period, to hold the national scoring leader to no goals in the final 20 minutes.
Bulldogs have the answers
The Green Knights scored first just 4:15 into the game when a shot from Cody Keefer ’13 hit Adrian goaltender Brad Fogal in the shoulder and waffled slowly past the goal line. The Bulldogs answered at 10:49 when Sam Kuzyk finished off a passing combination.
A bonanza on the power play then fueled the Green Knights, who turned in a season-high 3-for-5 effort with the man advantage. Tabisz fired a shot from the point that went past the cage, and the rebound off the bottom of the boards went straight to Johan Ryd ’11 for a power-play goal at 13:01. St. Norbert led 2-1 after one period.
Adrian knotted the game at 2-2 when Kyle Watson scored at 7:10, but the Green Knights responded with another power-play goal. Keefer caught a rebound from a Brandon Hoogenboom ’14 drive at 10:38 for his second goal of the game and his third of the Frozen Four. Keefer finished the year with a team-high 14 goals.
The Bulldogs answered again at 14:27 when Eric Miller’s backdoor shot just snuck under the crossbar. But just 59 seconds later, Tabisz answered with his decisive goal.
Not to be lost in the offense was the goaltending of two-time first team All-America honoree B.J. O’Brien. O’Brien was named the Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year after making 17 stops in the title game. Keefer and Tabisz were also selected to the All-Tournament Team.
St. Norbert finished the year as the nation’s top defensive team, allowing just 1.80 goals per game this season. The Green Knights have now led the nation in scoring defense three times in the last five years. The Green Knights, who scored just 102 goals in 30 games this season, finished the year a glittering 10-2 in one-goal games.
O'Brien finished the year leading the NCAA Division III in goals against
average and winning percentage and was tied in shutouts. Ryd led the
country in game-winning goals. In addition to the team leading the
country in scoring defense, it also had the top penalty-killing unit at