LEWISTON — SUNY-Geneseo coach Chris Schultz knows what he and his team are getting into Friday.

The Knights play in the first of two NCAA Division III ice hockey semifinals at 4 p.m. at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee against one of the top programs in the country, the Green Knights of St. Norbert College.

“I’ve seen a lot of St. Norbert in the past, just watching a lot of Frozen Fours,” Schultz said. “Their system really hasn’t changed much. I was able to watch some video, so I’m familiar with what they do, I’m just not familiar with being at the ice level with them.”

And when teams are on the ice with them, not many can say they’re used to defeating St. Norbert, which enters the weekend ranked No. 1 in the country. The Green Knights have won three of the past six NCAA Division III titles and are competing in their ninth final four, all since 2003.

“From the get-go this year, I’ve said that when we dress our big guns, so to speak, our starting goaltender and all of our top players, we’ve responded pretty well,” St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin. “We’ve had a good season.”

“Good” only begins to cover St. Norbert’s season. The Green Knights have won nine consecutive games, including five shutouts (they posted nine this season). They have converted on more than 25 percent of their power plays, and have allowed shorthanded goals fewer than one chance in 10.

“There are no superstars on this roster, it’s a very different look for us,” Coghlin said. “We’re led by our senior class. They’re all blue-collar guys, they all button up their chin straps, they all come to work every day and they don’t take opportunity lightly.”

And if one team is to wear the mantle of favorite this weekend, it would be St. Norbert. Coghlin just doesn’t want to hear it.

“I might be the only guy following this tournament who still thinks we’re the new kid on the block,” Coghlin said. “That’s still what it feels like to me. I really do feel that way. I felt that way when I took the job 20 years ago. I was coaching at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and we beat St. Norbert 21-1. The next year, I took the St. Norbert job, so to me, it always feels like we’re the new kid on the block.”

Neither team playing in Friday’s second semifinal is new to the frozen four, and certainly not Oswego State. The Lakers have been to the national final each of the past two seasons, falling once to St. Norbert and last year to Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

This weekend also marks Oswego’s fifth consecutive appearance in the frozen four. In total, the Lakers have made the NCAA tournament 15 times, including four runner-up ?nishes and a National Championship win in 2007.

This season was solid for the Lakers (21-5-2), who defeated Geneseo in the SUNYAC final to earn an automatic bid before downing Bowdoin in the first round and Babson in the quarterfinal round.

Freshmen Matt Galati and Alex Botten lead the Lakers in scoring, while another first-year athlete, Matt Zawadski, finished with a 2.16 GAA and an .922 save percentage.

The Lakers needed that freshman class, after graduating 14 seniors from last year’s finals squad.

“Believe me, we weren’t very good early on,” Oswego State coach Ed Gosek said this week. “There were growing pains. There were bumps in the road. There was a lot of adversity.”

Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the Lakers’ 7:30 p.m. opponent Friday, won four national titles in five seasons from 1989 to 1993, but returns to the final four this weekend for the first time in 16 seasons. Garrett Ladd leads the way for the Pointers (21-5-2) with 19 goals and 41 points. Freshman Kyle Sharkey has been a breath of fresh air for the team, and he finished second on the squad with 32 points in 27 games.

Brandon Jaeger’s line as the primary keeper was impressive as well. He posted a 1.92 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

The winners Friday will square off Saturday at 7 p.m. for the national title.


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