As always, it was worth the wait …
Roman Uchyn scored 13:54 into overtime to send St. Norbert College to the Frozen Four next week in Utica, N.Y.
It was quite a night for the NCHA men’s programs, which saw the Green Knights joined in the Frozen Four by Adrian College earlier in the evening. The sixth-ranked Bulldogs topped defending national champion (and No. 2) Stevens Point by a final score of 6-3 to give the league half of the semifinal field – a conference first.
Uchyn found himself all alone in the left slot getting late in overtime, sending the winner back across the front of the crease to light the lamp and hand the third-ranked Green Knights the 4-3 win over eighth-ranked Augsburg College in front of a sellout crowd of 1,660 (see celebration pictures below).
“Hats off to Augsburg, I thought they played a fantastic game,” head coach Tim Coghlin said. “I think we needed almost a bit of a shock to get us going and when they came out and played as well as they did, moved the puck as well as they did, created the scoring chances they did, we knew it was going to be a long night.”
SNC goalie T.J. Black ended the night with 31 saves, none bigger than with 90 seconds left in regulation. Augsburg had a great chance at an open net, but Black dove across the goal mouth and found a way to keep it 3-3 and headed to overtime.
When you get to overtime, and you’re in this tournament, it can certainly go either way,” Coghlin said. “We’re thankful it went that way for us.’
A rematch one year in the making, tonight’s matchup was nothing similar to last season’s 6-1 win by the home team. St. Norbert found itself trailing on not one, but two different occasions on the night.
Augsburg came out firing, recording seven of the first eight shots of the contest. The ninth was also theirs and found the back of the net, making it 1-0 at the 8:03 mark on Corbin Chapman’s 12th goal of the year.
It took nearly a full period of play for St. Norbert to make it a new game, with Luke Karakas netting just his second of the year to make it 1-1 at the 6:26 mark of the second. Less than 5 minutes later, the defense could not clear, and Trevor Stewart scored to again give the Auggies the one-goal edge.
One of the biggest plays came with seconds to spare in the second. Pijus Rulevičius took his opportunity when presented, slamming home a pass from Dominick Sacco with just 3.6 seconds remaining in the period to grab ahold of momentum.
“That was a big goal,” Coghlin said. “I thought that goal, with that little bit of time left, was a huge momentum swing. We’ve been on the other end of all of those scenarios and we were fortunate it went our direction. The timing on that one was impeccable.”
That momentum built to a 3-2 lead in the third on a goal by Steven Phillips, only to see the Auggies find a way to force the third tie of the night on Chapman’s second with about five minutes to play.
Rulevičius (1G/1A) finished the night as the only player to record more than one point.
Up next, the Green Knights head to New York for their 11th Frozen Four in the past 15 seasons.