St. Norbert wins second championship
Green Knights’ O’Brien named Most Outstanding Player
MINNEAPOLIS -- Titletown can add another trophy to its case. St. Norbert College claimed its second men's ice hockey national championship with a 4-3 win against Adrian College at the NCAA Division III Frozen Four.
The Green Knights, who also won the national crown in 2008, finished 25-4-1. Adrian, which carried an 18-game unbeaten streak into the game, also finished 25-4-1.
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 shot 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 postseason.
St. Norbert's defense locked down high-flying Adrian in the third period, with both teams 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.
The Green Knights scored first, 4:15 into the game, when Cody Keefer's shot hit Adrian goaltender Brad Fogal in the shoulder and the puck 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 boards went straight to Johan Ryd for a 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 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 also were 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. The Green Knights now have led the nation in scoring defense three times in the past five years. The Green Knights, who scored just 102 goals in 30 games this season, finished the year 10-2 in one-goal games.
O'Brien finished the year leading Division III in goals against average, save percentage 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 89.4 percent.