Adrian Falls to Host St. Norbert in NCHA Harris Cup Finale; Bulldogs Await NCAA At-Large Bid

Vincent Paquette and Brian Bachnak celebrate a Bulldogs goal earlier this season. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
Vincent Paquette and Brian Bachnak celebrate a Bulldogs goal earlier this season. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

DE PERE, Wis.--In a hard-fought contest here on Saturday evening, Adrian dropped a 4-1 decision to host St. Norbert in the championship game of the 2019 2019 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup playoffs. Despite losing for just the third time in their last 13 games, the Bulldogs are hopeful for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

THE BASICS
= Final Score: St. Norbert College 4, Adrian College 1

= Location: Cornerstone Community Ice Center; Ashwaubenon, Wis.

= Records: No. 1 NCHA overall seed St. Norbert Green Knights, 22-4-3; No. 2 NCHA overall seed Adrian Bulldogs, 20-8-1

= National Rankings: Adrian--No. 7 NCAA PairWise/No. 8 USCHO.com/No. 9 D3hockey.com; St. Norbert--No. 5 NCAA PairWise/No. 3 USCHO.com/No. 4 D3Hockey.com

TOP 'DAWGS
= Junior Vincent Paquette provided Adrian's lone tally in the third period.

= Senior goaltender Kevin Entmaa kept Adrian within striking distance by making 32 saves.

THE OPPOSITION
= Timmy Nicksic led the SNC offense with a pair of goals.

= T.J. Black stopped 31 shots.

= Peyton Frantti and Kurt Black both chipped in two assists.

HOW IT HAPPENED
= Nicksic broke a scoreless tie with 3 minutes and 35 seconds left in the opening period when his original shot from between the face-off circles trickled past Entmaa after a couple pokes at the puck.

= Moments later, junior Dino Balsamo had an excellent scoring chance to get Adrian on the board when a loose puck came to him after a scrum along the right wing boards, but it rolled off his stick and past the goal on the left.

= The Green Knights extended the lead to 2-0 39 seconds into the second period on Riley Christensen's power play goal.

= Paquette, however, cut the deficit in half at the 9:10 mark. He pounced on a SNC turnover behind its own net and Paquette skated around to tuck the puck past Black for his third goal of the season, unassisted.

= In the third period, the Green Knights sealed the victory with goals 3:14 apart from Peter Bates and Nicksic beginning at the 16:25 mark. Nicksic's second goal of the night was an empty-netter after Adrian pulled the goalie for an extra-skater for 63 seconds while trailing 3-1.

= Balsamo had another grade-A opportunity below the face-off circles in front of the net but his shot was deflected over the goal.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
= The NCHA All-Tournament Team was comprised of goalie T.J. Black, St. Norbert (Most Valuable Player); Defensemen Cory Dunn, Adrian and Brendon Gysbers, St. Norbert; and Forwards Dino Balsamo, Adrian; Peyton Frantti, St. Norbert; Timmy Nicksic, St. Norbert.

= St. Norbert wins its 15th NCHA Playoffs title and clinches automatic berth into NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship, its 19th appearance.

= St. Norbert leads Adrian in the all-time series, 12-8, which includes eight postseason meetings. The storied programs also have played in the last five NCHA Harris Cup title games with the Green Knights winning the last three times after the Bulldogs won in 2015 and 2016.

UP NEXT
=The NCAA will announce the 12-team tournament field at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Monday in a Selection Show on NCAA.com.

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