STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey will have a chance to play for its fifth NCAA Division III National Championship on Saturday following a 4-2 victory over SUNY Geneseo on Friday afternoon at the K.B. Willett Arena in the national semifinals.
Freshmen Maxime Borduas (St. Cesaire, Quebec) and Brett Ouderkirk (Monkland, Ontario) each had a goal and an assist, while junior goalie Tom Aubrun (Chamonix, France) made 18 saves in goal to lead Norwich to its sixth NCAA Division III National Championship game appearance.
The Cadets (23-4-3) will take on host UW-Stevens Point (28-0-2) at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central puck drop as NU will make its second appearance in the title game in the last three seasons. UW-Stevens Point beat Hobart 5-3 to advance to the title game.
Norwich dominated the special temas battle, holding Geneseo's top-ranked power play in the nation to 0-for-4, while Norwich went 2-for-3 on its chances with the man advantage.
After a scoreless first period, Norwich finally opened the scoring at the 6:30 mark of the second period with a power play goal by Ouderkirk off assists from Borduas and Felix Brassard (St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec). Brassard took an initial shot that was kicked away by McDonald, but he found his rebound and slid the puck to Borduas, who then made a sly no-look backhand pass to Ouderkirk cutting in from the left faceoff circle, who buried it five-hole past McDonald for his 15th goal of the season.
The Cadets added to the lead at the 13:45 mark of the second period with Coby Downs (Montclair, Calif.) scoring on the doorstep of the crease off assists from Scott Swanson (Wheaton, Ill.) and TJ Dockery (Lockport, N.Y.). Dockery fed a pass to Swanson in the middle of the slot and then Swanson found Downs all alone on the back door. McDonald made the initial save with his left pad but Downs roofed the rebound to make it 2-0 Norwich with his seventh goal of the season.
Norwich carried the 2-0 lead into the second intermission, leading shots on goal in the middle stanza 10-7.
The Cadets increased the lead to 3-0 at the 4:17 mark of the third period with Borduas scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal on the power play for his eighth goal of the season. Ouderkirk picked up the assist with a cross-ice pass from the half boards to find Borduas cutting through the high slot for the goal. Borduas roofed it with a defender draped all over him to give Norwich what seemed to be a pretty comfortable three-goal lead.
Geneseo (25-2-2) had other plans though as the nation's highest scoring offense finally put one past Aubrun at the 5:59 mark of the third period with Henry Cleghorn driving the net and notching the goal off assists from Tyson Empey and Ryan Burnett notching assists.
Just 1:01 later, Carson Kelley pulled Geneseo to within one goal with a rebound goal off assists from Dan Bosio and Joe Serpico. Kelley was in the right place at the right time, crashing the net and slipping the puck past Aubrun, who had trouble handling the puck and allowed Kelley to slam it home into the open net.
Norwich tightened up its defense and clamped down for the remainder of the third period to stave off Geneseo's attempt to find the equalizer.
Senior captain David Robertson (Boissevain, Manitoba) put the final dagger in Geneseo with an empty-net goal at the 19:31.4 mark. Robertson won a puck battle along the boards and fired the puck high off the glass in his own zone. The puck initially looked like it was going to roll wide to the left of the net but just as it started to lose momentum it spun back towards the goalmouth and rolled over the goal line to clinch the victory.
The goal was Robertson's fourth goal of the season and it cemented the Norwich victory.
Norwich outshot Geneseo 24-20, which was the first time all season that the Knights were outshot in a game.
Norwich improved to 6-7 all-time in NCAA semifinal games and the Cadets will carry a 4-1 record all-time in national championship games into tomorrow's title tilt. NU also extended its unbeaten streak to 19 straight games and winning streak to 15 straight games. The Cadets have not lost in 2019, carrying a 17-0-2 record.
Norwich won its four national championships in 2000, 2003, 2010 and 2017. UW-Stevens Point has won five national titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 2016.