MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The hurt could be felt throughout the bellows of Ridder Arena on Saturday night as Adrian College nearly realized its ultimate goal but fell just short 4-3 at the hands of St. Norbert College in the NCAA Division III National Championship game.
The special teams play proved to be Adrian’s achilles heel as the Green Knights went 3 of 5 on the power play while Adrian was 0 of 2 with the man advantage. Every time Adrian would tie the game, it was a penalty and subsequent goal by St. Norbert which put the Bulldogs behind the 8-ball.
“We could not gain any momentum because every goal by us was answered by them,” senior Sam Kuzyk said. “Our team tried to overcome the penalties but they really did a good job of making those penalties hurt.”
The Bulldogs never had a lead in the contest but never trailed by more than one goal. Cody Keefer got St. Norbert’s lone even strength goal at 4:15 of the first period on a misplayed shot off Brad Fogal’s glove. The puck went up in the air and hit off the top of Fogal’s mask and into the net.
Kuzyk got his 11th goal of the season at 10:49 of the first with assists from Mike Dahlinger and Quinn Waller. Kuzyk took the puck and made a nice move to free up enough space to wrist the puck over the shoulder of B.J. O’Brien into the top right corner.
Johan Ryd made it 2-1 Green Knights after the first period with a goal at 13:01 on the power play. The puck was ripped off the boards behind the net and ricocheted right to Ryd who buried the chance for his 10th goal of the season.
Kyle Watson tied it at 2-2 at 7:10 of the second period on a great individual effort. He took a pass from Andrew Dovey and lifted the puck top shelf for his fifth goal of the season. Kyle Gallinger also had an assist on the goal.
Keefer’s second goal of the game on the power play at 10:38 made it 3-2. He took the shot from right wing and got it above the shoulder of Fogal on a one-timer. Eric Miller then made it 3-3 on a nice pass from Shawn Skelly in front of the net at even strength. It was Miller’s 19th goal of the season.
St. Norbert got the game-winner at 15:26 of the second as Nick Tabisz scored his ninth goal of the season from Ryd and Brandon Longley.
“We had a few lapses on the penalty kill and that really lead to them getting the win,” head coach Ron Fogarty said. “I’m proud of our guys and the heart they showed each time we went down a goal. I’m also proud to be the head coach of Adrian College.”
St. Norbert outshot Adrian, 34-21, for the game but both teams had five shots on goal in the third period. Fogal made 30 saves and Adrian pulled him with 55 seconds left for an extra attacker but could not muster any offense.
The 17 seniors at Adrian College leave a lasting legacy of four MCHA regular season and Harris Cup titles and an overall record of 102-12-2. It is the best start to a program in NCAA history.
Senior defenseman Jeremy Klaver and senior forward Shawn Skelly were both named to the All-Tournament Team.