March 23, 2014

Plattsburgh claims third national title in dominating fashion

More news about: Norwich | Plattsburgh State

by Peter Langella

PLATTSBUGH, N.Y. – The best team won.  After beating Norwich twice during the regular season by identical 6-0 scores, SUNY Plattsburgh, ranked in the top spot of the poll for the entire season, defeated Norwich again - this time 9-2 en route to the school’s 3rd National Championship, and first since 2008.

Senior co-captains Chelsea VanGlahn and Jordan Caldwell and sophomore Bridget Balisy each scored two goals, and Plattsburgh (28-1-1), playing on home ice at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena, treated the mostly red-clad capacity crowd of 1,619 to the largest margin of victory in women’s championship game history. Amherst held the previous record, also against Norwich, winning 7-2 in 2010.

Norwich scored first, but Plattsburgh scored often - finishing with a record nine goals in the championship game. 
Photo: Peter Langella 

“I don’t want to say it was a perfect game, but it was an unbelievable game by our team,” said Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle, voted by his peers as National Coach of the Year. “From day one they’ve been on a mission to win a national championship. I think it’s the best team we’ve had. It’s a team, it really is. Everyone contributes. It’s a balanced attack. They’re a pleasure to coach every day.”

They’re a great team,” added Norwich head coach Mark Bolding. “They’re a true talented, well-oiled machine. It’s the opponent we wanted because you want to play the best.”

Norwich (27-4-0) got on the board first when junior forward Madyson Moore broke the early gridlock midway through the opening period after streaking through the Plattsburgh defense and beating Cardinal senior goaltender and Laura Hurd Award recipient Sydney Aveson through the five-hole to give the Cadets the 1-0 lead.

That was the only bright spot in the first period for the visitors from Norwich, however, as Plattsburgh poured on the offense and pumped in four consecutive goals over the next eight minutes to close out the first frame up 4-1.

“We were able to forecheck and work the puck down low, and we were able to get a lot of shots on net,” said Caldwell, a huge smile on her face. “Since you’re six years-old you want to win a championship. Once you get to college, it’s a national championship. To reach that goal is amazing.”

Balisy started the Cardinal onslaught at 9:57 of the period, connecting on the short side from a bad angle on an assist from junior forward Shannon Stewart.

Freshman defenseman Julia Duquette was next, firing a low shot through the legs of Norwich junior goalie Taylor Fairchild, who was severely screened by traffic in front. VanGlahn and senior Ali Vakos assisted on the play.

It was VanGlahn’s turn to light the lamp after that, converting a rebound on junior forward Tyne Gove’s shot. Vakos picked up her second of three assists on the tally.

“Every step of the way, we met our goals,” VanGlahn said. “We dug down deep with passion and got what we wanted.”

Norwich coach Mark Bolding pulled Fairchild after the play, opting to go with junior Loren Carrier for the rest of the game.

“With Plattsburgh, you gotta do something quick,” Bolding said. “Step one, goalie change; try to gain some momentum.”

But Plattsburgh’s run continued, scoring on just their second shot against the new keeper. It was Balisy again, this time breaking in alone and leaving no doubt, beating Carrier with a crossbar-and-down rocket to the top glove side.

The period ended with the Cards outshooting the Cadets 19-9 and carrying all of the momentum.

Norwich came out strong in the second period, generating a number of chances, but Aveson, who entered the game with a mind-blowing 0.51 GAA and .973 save percentage, helped them to weather the storm.

“My goal as a Cardinal was to improve every day,” Aveson said. “My teammates pushed me every day since I was a freshman. You can’t improve if you’re not challenged by teammates in practice. All of the records I have are team oriented.”

Then, at 8:11 of the second frame, Balisy fired a shot from fifty feet out that deflected off of a Norwich defender and right onto the stick of Caldwell, who hammered home her thirteenth goal of the season to extend the Plattsburgh lead to 5-1.

The Cards continued their strong play and hemmed Norwich in their own zone for much of the remainder of the period, building their shot advantage to 38-15 through two frames.           

“We just weren’t sharp enough,” Bolding said. “Plattsburgh took away our passing lanes. We couldn’t get through clean enough when it was 3-1, and then great teams make you pay. You have to tip your hat to them. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team like this. This team is almost spotless.”

VanGlahn scored her second just 2:33 into the final period on what looked like a kicked puck.

“I’m not sure what happened,” she said. “I just went to the net hard and it went in.”

It was called a good goal and the rout was on. Senior forward Jenny Kristner ripped a shot high on the blocker side four minutes later to extend the Cardinal lead to 7-1.

Norwich struggled to find an answer for Aveson, who finished with 37 saves, despite getting nearly four minutes of five-on-three powerplay time and 24 shots on goal in the third. One glove save during the man advantage brought the crowd to its feet in a standing ovation that all but ended any chance the Cadets might have had.

“The positive response is that we didn’t quit,” Bolding said. “Imagine having a senior group that has two silvers and a gold,” which refers to their finish in the last four tournaments including this one, winning their program’s only title over RIT in 2011. “That’s pretty good.”

Norwich senior All-American Torrie Charron elaborated on how she feels about her teammates, despite the loss: “I’d rather never win a national championship than play with any other team than this. Coming [to Norwich] is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

“Norwich worked hard,” Houle said. “They have a great team over there. We just seem to match up well against them. A goal or a bounce here or there, and then we capitalized.”

Plattsburgh’s Caldwell scored her second at 16:39, Norwich senior forward Haley Gibson scored one for the Cadets at18:26, and Vakos capped the scoring in the final minute on a blazing rush for her fourth point and an exclamation point on the 9-2 win. 

“There’s no better feeling in the world,” Aveson said. “Being a senior, it’s bittersweet. I felt myself tearing up with about ten minutes left, but then I controlled myself and started having fun.”

“We have the best fans here in Plattsburgh,” VanGlahn added. “I wouldn’t want it any other way; with 27 sisters out there with me.”

The Cardinals outshot the Cadets 49-39 on the evening. Plattsburgh went 0-1 on the powerplay, while Norwich went 0-5.

Plattsburgh reached the NCAA Tournament after winning the ECAC-West regular season and playoff championship, and then beating Williams and St. Thomas in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. It was the Cardinals’ third straight trip to the Frozen Four, having placed third in each of the last two seasons.

This season ended with a win as well, but it was finally in the game that the senior class had set its sights on.

Chelsea VanGlahn summed it up: “Like Coach said, we were on a mission.”

What a mission it was.


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March 22, 2014

Frozen Four notebook

More news about: St. Norbert | UW-Stevens Point

by Ray Biggs


All Tournament Team

Following the conclusion of the national championship game, the all-tournament team was announced  as follows: 

Forward: Joe Perry, St. Norbert
Forward: Joe Kalisz, Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Forward: Shawn Hulshof, Oswego State
Defenseman: Marian Fiala, St. Norbert
Defenseman: Kyle Brodie, Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Goaltender: David Jacobson, St. Norbert

Most Outstanding Player: Joe Perry, St. Norbert


They Love Their Hockey Here

Lewiston wasn't the only city happy to see NCAA championship weekend come to the area.

Jonathan Labonte, mayor of nearby Auburn, believes it's another chance to showcase the region's already rich hockey tradition. The Colisee' is also the home of the AHL's Portland Pirates on a temporary basis, and features championship high school hockey on a regular basis, with crowds numbering close to 3,000. 

"Lewiston and Auburn have been hockey towns for a long time. We have a strong french canadian  presence here, the arena was built by a catholic parish. It's a good chance to show people from all over the country that Lewiston and Auburn love hockey and we'll support it,” Labonte said. 

Home Cookin' is Served

Although all three games this weekend were neutral site games, it could be said that home ice advantage did exist when you consider how the games unfolded. During the 2014 championship weekend, the home team in each game was victorious. Furthermore, the designated home team trailed for just 8:49 of game time on the weekend.


Fear the Beard

With a beard that would make many an NHL'er jealous, David Jacobson became the first Green Knight goaltender to win multiple national titles.
Photo: Eric Gulseth 

 Beyond his absolutely stellar play, the other thing that stood out about St. Norbertgoaltender David Jacobson was his absolutely remarkable beard. But, unlike many we see at this time of year, this was far more than just a playoff beard. Jacobson claims he began growing the beard, which is approximately three inches in length, at the very beginning of the season. It wouldn't hurt to do so next year, as Jacobson has one more year to pursue a third national title. 


Not Just for Pitchers

 In a Division 3 college hockey season, the twenty win plateau is always a good target to shoot for if you're a goaltender. In the semifinal round, Stevens Point goaltender Brandon Jaeger picked up his 20th victory of the season, becoming the first Pointer goalie to do so since Bob Gould in the 1999-2000 campaign. 

In the opposite crease, Jacobson is no stranger to winning twenty games either. The Green Knight goalie has done so in back to back seasons, going 24-1-1 this season in 26 starts. The 24 victories marks a career high for Jacobson. 


They're Killin' It Out There

 The two teams that met in the final had many things in common: Their state of origin, the conference they played in for many years together, and multiple national titles to their credit. But another common bond that St. Norbert and Stevens Point shared this weekend was fine penalty killing. The two teams finished a combined 0-for-8 on the power play in Saturday's championship game, and Stevens Point did not allow a power play goal all weekend. 


Don't Blink

When two top teams get together, the potential always exists for records to be broken. This weekend was no different, as St. Norbert's Joe Perry and Erik Cooper scored just eleven seconds apart to set a new record for shortest time between goals in an NCAA final. The 2013 Oswego State Lakers were the previous record holders at 31 seconds, with Bobby Gertsakis and Chris Muise scoring the goals.


Approach the Bench

In the decisive first period of the National Championship game, St. Norbert scored two goals on 22 attempted shots, with 21 coming from the right wing side. The right side was also the same side where the St. Norbert bench was located. 


Is this trophy made of cheese?

St. Norbert and Stevens Point aren't the only ones from Wisconsin having success. The Wisconsin-Whitewater men's basketball team took home a national title on Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team moves on to the NCAA sweet sixteen, and the Wisconsin men's hockey team took home the Big Ten championship this weekend.



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March 22, 2014

The Green Machine rolls on

More news about: St. Norbert | UW-Stevens Point

by Matthew Webb

LEWISTON, Maine. – For the third time in the past four years St. Norbert College claimed the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey national championship as the Green Knights topped in-state rival UW-Stevens Point 3-1 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

"It was a stressful night," said St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin. "Stevens Point is a heck of a team obviously and we saw them get better and better as the game went along."

Joe Perry was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player while winning his third national title.
Photo: Eric Gulseth 

"I thought it was awesome, exciting and fast-paced," added UW-Stevens Point head coach Chris Brooks.  "That was two great hockey teams going back and forth all night."

The win marks the fourth national championship in program history for St. Norbert, who also scored titles in 2008, 2011 and 2012. It also caps off the careers of seven seniors who ended three of their four seasons with the Green Knights as national champions.

"Ever since we lost last year it was such a huge disappointment – especially losing to the team that eventually won it," said senior and tournament Most Valuable Player Joe Perry.  "To be able to come back this year, win every game we needed to win and end up on top...I'm just at a loss for words. I can't believe we did it -- it's the best feeling in the world."

The two traded scoring chances in the opening minutes of the game as Stevens Point's Lawrence Cornellier rang a post at the 4:30 mark and St. Norbert's Michael Hill did the same at 7:10.  A slashing penalty on Stevens Point's Nick D'avolio at 8:36 handed St. Norbert its first power play of the night, but the Green Knights took a tripping penalty of their own near the end of the two minute advantage which handed the Pointers their first opportunity with an extra skater.

At the 13:06 mark of the first, St. Norbert took advantage of a beautiful drop pass by Tyler Zepeda on a two-on-two rush to take a 1-0 lead. Zepeda's pass found Joe Perry, who skated behind the net and beat Stevens Point netminder Brandon Jaeger to the far post and buried a wraparound shot to give the Knights the lead.

A mere eleven seconds later it was 2-0 St. Norbert as a Blake Thompson shot from near the blue line skipped its way through traffic before being deflected by Eric Cooper past Jaeger and into the back of the Stevens Point net.  St. Norbert was whistled for three penalties in the second period, but killed off all three Stevens Point power play chances in the period and took its 2-0 lead into the second intermission. The Green Knights' penalty killers were a perfect four-for-four on the night.

"We got out early and played with the lead most of the night," Coghlin said. "When we've been able to do that we make other teams have to challenge and I think our structure, and our players and our goaltending allows us to do some things that make it difficult."

St. Norbert had a golden opportunity to extend the lead as a trip on Stevens Point's Scott Henegar at the 14:33 mark handed the Green Knights another power play, but the Pointers' penalty killers and Jaeger held firm and maintained the 2-0 deficit. After the penalty expired the Pointers turned in a strong final few minutes of the period but were unable to score and the Green Knights took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission. St. Norbert held a 10-7 shot advantage in the period.

Brandon Jaeger made 71 saves on the weekend, including 26 in the championship game, but St. Norbert's three Saturday goals stood up.
Photo: Eric Gulseth 

The second period ticked by scoreless, thanks in large part to a St. Norbert penalty kill unit who, along with netminder David Jacobson, killed off three Stevens Point power plays in the period. St. Norbert held a 12-7 shot advantage in the frame which increased its edge to 22-14 on the night, but the Pointers were slowly able to apply more and more pressure as the period wore on.

"We just told the guys to trust themselves," Brooks said. "We just wanted to stay the course."

The Pointers made it a game just 45 seconds into the third period as Joe Kalisz found Garrett Ladd driving to the net and Ladd beat Jacobson to make it a 2-1 game, but the Green Knights' reclaimed the lead at the 5:47 mark of the frame as Marian Fiala blasted a slap shot from the left point past Jaeger to make it a 3-1 game.

"In the second period and the beginning of the third they were pressuring at times and we couldn't really work it up high, so we ended up getting it high, and to be honest I pretty much closed my eyes and don't really remember the rest," Fiala said.

From there, as is the trademark of all championship St. Norbert teams, the Green Knights were able to lock down and keep Stevens Point off the board despite the fact the Pointers continued to be able to apply pressure.

"Every game has its ebb and flow," Coghlin said. "We've lived through that all season and the resiliency of our group has been that there's never been anybody who has pushed so hard on us that we haven't been able to respond."

"Tonight was different, and yeah our guys responded when [Stevens Point] pushed. The structure, integrity, where we play positionally and the way guys battle, I thought David [Jacobson] was in position to see most everything. They had three or four chances that were "wow" chances and in those instances David was huge, which is what we've come to expect from him."

Jacobson made 23 stops on the night to get the win, and it was a win that solidifies his spot in St. Norbert history as the first Green Knights goaltender to win two national titles.
While Stevens Point missed out on the program's fifth national title, the national runner-up closes out its season at 22-6-2 and has made tremendous strides in Brooks' first three seasons, and the future remains bright as the Pointers lose just of a sliver of this year's roster to graduation.

"I'm extremely proud of this group and how much progress they made in a short period of time," Brooks said. ""There are so many positives to look at. For me, I'm looking at the part so many people have played to get this program to where it is right now, and my goal is to realize how crucial they were in that part of the process."

"I'm so proud of what these guys accomplished and yeah I'm disappointed, but the sun is going to come up in the morning -- it's ok."

Meanwhile, St. Norbert heads back to De Pere and to an arena that is already out of room for banners with the hardware in-tow for the fourth time.  Three seniors - Joe Perry, Reid

St. Norbert's four captains: (from left to right) Brandon Hoogenboom, Reid Campbell, Joe Perry, and Patrick McCadden.
Photo: Eric Gulseth 

Campbell, and Brandon Hoogenboom - played a hand in raising two of the program's first three championship banners, and they finish their careers by bringing home yet another.

"This senior class, led by Joe [Perry] is just a very unique group of kids that came through here as freshmen and played such impactful roles as freshmen and they won a national championship," Coghlin said.

"As sophomores they were already taking on the leadership qualities we have seen them exemplify in the classroom, the weight room and on the ice. Last year was obviously very disappointing to lose to the eventual national champions there was a sort of bitterness to it, and for them to come back and demonstrate what they my 20 plus years of doing this I've never seen a class quite like this."


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