ASHWAUBENON – St. Norbert and Adrian aren’t just the top two teams in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, they’re the top two teams in the national rankings as well. This weekend the Green Knights and Bulldogs will square off in a pair of games at Cornerstone Ice Arena.
Senior captain Reid Campbell said he expects and awesome atmosphere for this weekend’s game. “I’m super excited to get out there. Something’s on the line. You’ve got first place on the line in our division. It’s exciting it’s the games you want to play in,” Campbell said.
Adrian and St. Norbert share first place in the NCHA with just six games remaining in the regular season. The conference winner will get a leg up in hosting postseason games. Green Knights head coach Tim Coghlin said he’s explained very plainly to his team what’s at stake this weekend. “Realistically what you’re talking about now is where do you want to play in the playoffs,” Coghlin said. “If it comes down to a one game scenario, do you want to try and get that game at Cornerstone or do you want to drive to Adrian Michigan, or Duluth Minnesota.”
Adrian started hockey just eight years ago and has quickly become a force at the Division III level. They’ve only played St. Norbert twice before though. These two appear to be the dominate programs for the foreseeable future so forward Cullen Bradshaw said it’s important to establish the upper hand. “The way the tournament is setup you never know who you’re going to see again so it’s always good to put a fear or doubt into all these teams we’re playing right now,” Bradshaw said.
Adrian is the last remaining unbeaten hockey team at the Division III level but after playing six games against ranked teams, St. Norbert feels well prepared.
“I think we’ve been tested and we’ve been pushed harder than Adrian’s been tested and pushed and now we’re going to see who pushes hardest Friday night,” coach Coghlin said.
Adrian’s been dominate in accumulating their 16-0-3 record this season. They’ve only trailed twice the entire season, so the Green Knights know the importance of a fast start. “Get them down early in our barn. It’s a hard place to play and if we’re dogging them maybe they’ll fold tent,” Reid Campbell said. “Who knows what kind of character they have.”
We’ll find out the answer this weekend.