icehockey-men-d3 flag | January 31, 2014

DIII's top two teams to face off

The top two teams in Division III face off this weekend when top-ranked Adrian heads to No. 2 St. Norbert for a two-game series starting Friday.

This is a familiar spot for St. Norbert, who as the nation’s second-ranked team defeated top-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Nov. 22. That win boosted the Green Knights into the nation’s top ranking for a week before a loss to Saint Scholastica. Plattsburgh State then jumped into the top spot for a couple of weeks until Adrian claimed its first No. 1 ranking in program history on Jan. 6.

Though these two teams have only met twice – with St. Norbert winning both -- there is still a lot of history between the two squads. In the 2010 NCAA tournament, the Green Knights came away with a 4-3 win in the first round. The following year, St. Norbert claimed the national championship by beating the Bulldogs by a 4-3 score once again.

But this time around, the Bulldogs remain unbeaten in regulation on the season and they are outscoring their opponents 63-16. Junior forward Josh Ranalli’s 16 goals lead the nation while linemate Josh Cousineau is second in the nation in assists with 15. Those two team up with Justin Basso (six goals, 13 assists) to give Adrian a high-octane top line.

Having to contend with Adrian’s attack is St. Norbert goaltender David Jacobson, who is sporting a 13-0-1 record and a 1.41 goals-against average this season. Jacobson is coming off back-to-back shutouts against Milwaukee Engineering and made a combined 40 saves in those two games.

Adrian and St. Norbert are currently tied for first in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association with 22 points.

Slap shots

Babson is 13-1 when allowing two goals or less and is now 8-2 in games decided by a single goal. … Only three times in 16 games has the opposition netted as many as three goals versus Williams. St. Thomas (Minn.) goalie Drew Fielding leads the nation, regardless of division, with seven shutouts this season. … Wisconsin-Stevens Point has been outshot in a game twice this season. … Oswego State was shutout last weekend for the first time since Jan. 5, 2013.

Wisconsin boats a 32-19 edge in third-period goals this season. … Boston College has not lost at Providence since  2006, going 6-0-3 since that setback. … The top two teams in the nation in third-period scoring will meet as Providence’s 37 third-period goals this season are the second-most in the country, trailing only Boston College’s 40. … Quinnipiac is also one of eight teams to average 3.50 goals per game as its 3.52 average ranks fourth nationally, while its 1.59 scoring margin is good for third nationally. … St. Cloud State ranks fourth in the nation on the power play at 23.4 percent this season (22-of-94). … Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox is second in the nation with 17 wins this season.