Entering Friday night’s NCAA Division III Tournament semifinal against Colby College of Waterville at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., St. Norbert’s College of Wisconsin had outscored its opponents 42-8 in the first period.
That held true as the Green Knights scored twice in the first 2:35 en route to building a 3-0 lead and then received a crucial shorthanded goal from Tanner Froese with 35 seconds left in the second period to upend the Mules 4-3.
St. Norbert’s, which has won 11 in a a row, is now 26-4-1 and will seek its fifth national title in 11 years against Salve Regina of Rhode Island (22-5-2), which used a 55-save performance from Blake Wojtala and two goals from Erik Udahl to beat Wisconsin-Stevens Point 3-0 in the earlier semifinal.
The title game will be 7 p.m. Saturday.
Colby, making its first ever Frozen Four appearance, wound up 17-11-2 and had its six-game winning streak snapped.
Junior Roman Uchyn opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the season just 1:28 into the game off assists from Nick LeSage and Riley Christensen and Dominick Sacco made it 2-0 just 1:17 later with Steven Phillips picking up the only assist.
Sacco’s goal was his 11th of the year.
Froese made it 3-0 at the 11:33 mark of the first period off an assist from Peter Bates.
But the Mules climbed their way back into the game with goals just 2:52 apart late in the second period from J.P. Schuhlen and Cam MacDonald before Froese answered to make it 4-2.
Kienan Scott and Mark Leprine assisted on Schuhlen’s sixth goal of the season before MacDonald scored his 16th on the power play off assists from Thomas Stahlhuth and Michael Decker with 2:04 remaining in the period.
But Froese’s unassisted goal gave the Green Knights some valuable breathing room and proved to be the game-winner.
Justin Grillo pulled the Mules within one with 5:52 left in regulation with his eighth off a Michael Rudolf assist but the Mules couldn’t get the equalizer for head coach Blaise MacDonald, who was named the recipient of the Eddie Jeremiah Award for the best Division III coach in the country on Thursday night.
T.J. Black finished with 39 saves for St. Norbert’s while Sean Lawrence made 44 for Colby, which had allowed only six goals in five playoff games entering Friday’s game.