SNC Athletics --
ADRIAN, Mich. - Timmy Nicksic's goal 3:19 into overtime lifted St. Norbert College to a 2-1 win over Adrian College in a battle between the nation's top-two ranked teams in a battle for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup Playoffs championship at Arrington Ice Arena.
The Green Knights (24-4-1), ranked No. 2 in the USCHO.com Division III and D3hockey.com polls, faced the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (25-4) for the third time this season - with all three games going to overtime. St. Norbert claimed its 14th NCHA Playoffs championship in the last 21 years, and their seventh in the last nine seasons. St. Norbert, which has won the Harris Cup on Adrian's ice in two consecutive seasons, clinched the NCHA's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament, with the 12-team bracket announced at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
St. Norbert struck gold in the overtime session when Steven Phillips played a puck up the far wall out to Nick LeSage at the blue line. LeSage skated in a couple strides before deftly finding an open Nicksic in the slot. The freshman skated around an Adrian defender out front and cleanly finished a backhand past a sprawling Adrian goaltender Kevin Entmaa to send the St. Norbert bench charging onto the ice in celebration.
The Green Knights and Bulldogs skated to an uneventful first period which featured no scoring or penalties. The game would remain scoreless for most of the second period, until Adrian's Mathew Thompson finished a back-door goal a second after a power play expired for a 1-0 lead with 17:58 elapsed.
Adrian would cling to its lead until being whistled for minor penalties at the 8:28 and 9:33 marks of the third period, giving St. Norbert a golden 5-on-3 opportunity. Senior captain Tanner Froese converted a back-door 5-on-3 power-play marker of his own at 10:02 for his team-high 12th goal of the season.
St. Norbert goaltender T.J. Black made 26 saves and was named NCHA Harris Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. LeSage and Froese also joined Black on the six-man NCHA All-Tournament Team.
The Green Knights outshot Adrian 36-27, which included swinging the momentum their way with a bit 13-4 edge in the third period. Entmaa made 34 saves for the Bulldogs.
St. Norbert was 1-for-5 on the power play, while Adrian was 0-for-3