Men's Hockey: Norwich vs. Adrian - NCAA Semifinals Preview

Men's Hockey - NCAA Semifinal Preview vs. Adrian - group celebration

THIS WEEKEND'S STORYLINE: No. 1 (USCHO) / No. 1 (d3hockey)-nationally ranked Norwich (25-1-3) continues the quest for its fourth NCAA Division III National Championship on Friday when it faces Adrian College at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, N.Y. in a NCAA Tournament Semifinal matchup.

The Cadets are coming off defeating Hamilton College 6-2 in the NCAA Quarterfinal round on Saturday at Kreitzberg Arena. NU also beat MASCAC champion Salem State 3-1 in a first round matchup two weeks ago. Norwich won their 12th New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament title on March 4 with a 4-1 win over New England College. NU won its 18th NEHC regular season title in the last 19 years after a one-year hiatus last year. NU is making its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and 12th trip to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four. The Cadets will be looking to add to its three titles coming in 2000, 2003 and 2010.

Norwich tied the program unbeaten streak record at 23 games last Saturday, a streak that started on Nov. 19 with a 4-0 win over Castleton. It tied the 2000 national championship team's record of 23 straight games unbeaten that culminated with the program's first national champion with a 2-1 win over St. Thomas in Superior, Wis.

Adrian College (20-6-2) is making its third NCAA Division III Frozen Four appearance after dethroning defending national champion and rival UW-Stevens Point 6-3 in the quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs won the NCHA regular season title for the third straight season, but lost to St. Norbert in the NCHA Championship game.

Adrian's two other Frozen Four appearances came in 2011 and 2015. The Bulldogs finished as the national runner up in 2011 with a 4-3 loss to St. Norbert in the final. They also lost to Trinity in the semifinals in 2015.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: A spot in the NCAA Division III National Championship will be on the line on Friday with the winner set to face the St. Norbert/Trinity winner on Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in the 2017 National Championship game.

Norwich is making its 12th D-III Frozen Four appearance and is 26-15-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Cadets continued their streak of winning at least one game in every NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.

In other NCAA Quarterfinal action, 2015 NCAA Division III national champion Trinity defeated Endicott 2-1 in double-overtime to make its second semifinal appearance in the last three seasons. St. Norbert beat Augsburg 4-3 in overtime to advance to its 11th D-III Frozen Four in the last 15 years. The Green Knights have won four national championships including three of four in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

This year's Frozen Four field has combined to win six of the last eight national championships with the only two not won by a participant being UW-Eau Claire in 2013 and UW-Stevens Point in 2016.

THE SERIES: Friday will mark the first-ever meeting between Norwich and Adrian College in men's ice hockey. The Cadets and Bulldogs were both at the 2011 Frozen Four, but Norwich lost 3-2 to St. Norbert in the semifinals. Adrian also came out to Norwich's Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament in 2011, but Manhattanville beat Adrian in the opening round.

THE COACHES: Norwich is led by Mike McShane, who is in his 22nd year 476-123-36 record. He recorded his 700th career victory on Nov. 19, 2016 in a win over Castleton, becoming just the seventh coach at any level in NCAA history to accomplish the feat. He is 720-341-73 all-time in 36 seasons between NU, St. Lawrence and Providence. He was named the NEHC Coach of the Year for the 10th time this season. McShane has guided the Cadets to 18 of the last 19 league regular season championships.

Adrian is led by Adam Krug, who is a 2012 graduate of Adrian College and in his third year at the helm of the program. He has compiled a 68-14-6 record for an .807 winning percentage, which is the highest active winning percentage for a NCAA men's hockey coach. Adam is the brother of Boston Bruins' defenseman Torey Krug and was a two-year standout for the Bulldogs. He ranks seventh all-time in school history with 129 points, sixth with 52 goals, fifth with 20 power play goals and ninth with 77 assists.

SCOUTING THE CADETS: Norwich (25-1-3, 16-1-1 NEHC) is led offensively by NEHC First Team selection senior William Pelletier (16-27-43) and NEHC Third Team member Kevin Salvucci (20-16-36).

Senior defenseman Cody Smith (2-30-32) is third in the nation for points by a defenseman and was also named to the NEHC All-Conference First Team. He is just two assists away from tying Bill Nash's single-season record for assists of 33. Seniors Tyler Piacentini (15-13-28) and Anthony Flaherty (10-19-29) round out Norwich's top-five offensive leaders.

In goal, junior Braeden Ostepchuk has a perfect 15-0-0 record with a 1.71 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. He was named to the NEHC Second Team along with Piacentini. Senior Ty Reichenbach is 9-1-3 with a 1.65 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. He was just named to the NEHC All-Tournament team after making 27 saves on 28 shots in the 4-1 win over NEC in the finals.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Adrian (20-6-2, 17-3-0 NCHA) is led by sophomore defenseman Cory Dunn, who leads the nation in points by a defenseman with nine goals and 27 assists for 36 points. Sophomore Trevor Boyd has 18 goals and 17 assists for 35 points, while junior Kyle Brothers has eight goals and 27 assists for 35 points. Boyd and Dunn were named to the NCHA All-Conference Team.

Freshman Vincent Paquette has 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, while sophomore Bryan Yim has 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points to round out Adrian's top-five offensive leaders. Paquette was named the NCHA Rookie of the Year, while Yim earned NCHA All-Conference honors.

In goal, sophomore Kevin Entmaa has compiled a 15-6-2 record with a 2.18 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Entmaa was named to the NCHA All-Conference Team.

By the Numbers: (national rank)

SCORING OFFENSE-
Norwich: 4.31 (8th)
Adrian:  4.50 (5th)

SCORING DEFENSE-
Norwich: 1.69 (2nd)
Adrian:  2.21 (11th)

PENALTY MINUTES PER GAME-
Norwich: 8.9 minutes (73rd)
Adrian: 18.2 minutes (12th)

POWER PLAY-
Norwich: 27.0 percent (6th)
Adrian: 25.6 percent (7th)

PENALTY KILL-
Norwich: 83.0 percent (27th)
Adrian: 85.6 percent (15th)