LEWISTON, Maine – There was no doubt in regard to who possessed the top NCAA Division III hockey team in the 2013-14 season.
Finishing the season with an impressive 11-0 kick, St. Norbert College claimed its fourth national championship in seven years with a gritty 3-1 win over long-time archrival UW-Stevens Point in the title game of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Including its first “Run for the Roses” in 2008, the Green Knights have been simply dominant in the NCAA Tournament. St. Norbert has gone a remarkable 16-2 in that span, the only blemishes to Norwich University in the 2010 title game and to eventual 2013 champion UW-Eau Claire in a national quarterfinal.
The Green Knights (28-3-1), who set a school record with 28 wins this season, knew it wouldn’t be easy against the Pointers (22-6-2). Stevens Point was playing in its first national title game since 1998, and had won NCAA Division III titles in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993.
St. Norbert, who entered the game 24-2-1 when scoring first this season, drew first blood when Joe Perry scored his 24th goal of the season when his wraparound attempt found its way past the goal line with 13 minutes 6 seconds of the first period. The Green Knights added to their lead an NCAA Tournament-record 11 seconds later, when Erik Cooper’s shot through traffic found twine at 13:17 for his 16th goal of the year.
The Green Knights had to battle their way through a second period that saw them kill off three Stevens Point power plays, although one was truncated to a 4-on-4 situation thanks to a Pointer infraction. About midway through the second period, a Michael Hill shot hit the crossbar, and was ruled no goal following a video review to keep St. Norbert ahead 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Stevens Point swung momentum in its favor when Garrett Ladd scored his 20th goal of the season just 45 seconds into the third period. The Pointers Scott Henegar was whistled for tripping at 3:46, and the Green Knights pushed ahead 3-1 just one second after the penalty expired on Marian Fiala’s sixth marker of the season.
There were no penalties the rest of the game, and Stevens Point couldn’t draw closer despite having an extra attacker on the ice for the final 2 minutes of the game.
Perry, who scored five goals and two assists in three NCAA Tournament games, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Perry’s 24 goals are tied for second-most in a season in school history, and he’s only the fourth St. Norbert player to reach that mark.
Fiala and goaltender David Jacobson were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Jacobson made 23 saves as the Green Knights killed off all four Stevens Point power plays. Jacobson, the first St. Norbert goaltender to be in net for two national championship wins, finishes the season 24-1-1 – the best record ever for a St. Norbert netminder.
Joe Kalisz and Kyle Brodie of Wisconsin-Stevens Point were also named to the All-Tournament team, along with Shawn Hulshof from Oswego State University. Stevens Point goaltender Brandon Jaeger made 26 saves and also aided in killing off all four St. Norbert power plays.
St. Norbert finished the season leading Division III in scoring offense (4.78 goals per game) and scoring defense (1.44 goals per game). Since the NCAA officially began keeping track of national statistics in 1995-96, St. Norbert is the first Division III team to lead the country in offense and defense in the same season. It is the fourth time in the last eight years the Green Knights have led the country in scoring defense, and the first time they have led the nation in scoring offense.