St. Norbert tops St. Thomas 3-1 to advance to quarters
by Nate Woelfel
ASHWAUBENON, Wis -- St. Norbert may not have gotten off to the fast start it was hoping for, but in the end it was the win that the Green Knights needed to punch their ticket to the quarterfinal as they downed St. Thomas 3-1 in an opening round game Wedesday night at the Cornerstone Community Center.
St. Norbert will now host Gustavus Adolphus, a 3-1 winner over MSOE, Saturday night at 7 p.m. with a trip to Lake Placid on the line.
The two teams traded unsuccessful power plays in the early going, and after outshooting the Green Knights 6-0 in the game's early stages it was the Tommies who struck first as sophomore defenseman Willi Rose drew first blood for the Tommies as he lit the lamp at the 8:52 mark of the opening frame.
St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin believes it took his team a few minutes to get into the game mentally.
"We looked, early on, like a team that came off an emotional high on Saturday and couldn't get back from that emotional spot," Coghlin said. "They looked like a team that's been off for 12 days. They were hungry."
Untimely penalties plagued St. Norbert in the opening period, but despite being shorthanded two men with just over eight minutes remaining, the Green Knights were able to kill both penalties and keep the deficit at one heading into the first intermission.
In Coghlin's opinion, that sequence helped put life into his team moving forward.
"Johan (Ryd) was the one who put us down five on three and he happens to be our best penalty killing forward," Coghin said. "Huge effort from the other guys to be able to make that clear. That's when you can see our bench start to catch fire a little bit."
After getting few scoring chances in the first period, the Green Knights were able to open things up a bit more in the second, and tied the game 1-1 at the 6:48 mark as sophomore defenseman Zach McDonald took a pass from Cullen Bradshaw and hammered a shot from the low right circle past Tommies' netminder Drew Fielding.
Junior forward Cody Keefer gave the Green Knights the lead for the first time when he scored on a no-look turnaround on the power play with just under three and a half minutes remaining in the period, and the 2-1 St. Norbert lead carried into the second intermission.
|Junior forward Cody Keefer tallied twice to pace the Green Knights.|
Keefer found the back of the net for the second time of the night at the 10:31 mark of the third to put the Green Knights up 3-1 and all but seal the deal for St. Norbert.
Keefer's pair of goals led the Green Knights, while Ryd tallied two assists. Freshman goaltender David Jacobsen stopped 23 shots to pick up his first ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Despite the slow start, Coghlin was happy with how his team came together in the final 40 minutes of the contest.
"I would say this year, with this group, that's about as proud of our team as I've been," Coghlin said. "They stick to the game plan, stick to the system, stay with each other and have that step up to the appropriate times."
The Green Knights now get a Gustavus Adolphus team that it is no stranger to, as the two met earlier this season as well as in the 2010 NCAA tournament.
"I suspect it has already happened downstairs," Coghlin said. "The guys have talked about ice baths, getting their legs fresh and getting ready to go."
"The good news this is week is that now we are not playing a team that is at a huge advantage in terms of 12 days of rest. We've got a team coming in that also played a game tonight, they also played on Saturday. It looks a little more like it balances out a bit."