The result was a pair of timely goals to cap a momentum shift late in the third period as Hill helped lift St. Norbert to a 6-2 win over SUNY-Geneseo in the teams’ NCAA Division III ice hockey semifinal at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday.

Hill’s pair of goals in the final three minutes of the second frame snapped a 2-2 deadlock, and gave the top-seeded Green Knights a bit of breathing room against a Geneseo team known for coming from behind in big games.

“At the end of two, we talked about Geneseo’s prowess at pushing back,” St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin said. “We just kept reminding ourselves that this is team that has some push. However, I thought they started to get a little gassed. I started to see, at the end of the second, and we were hopeful that we could use more bodies in the third.”

The Green Knights did that, limiting Geneseo to six total shot on net.

With 3:12 to play in regulation, St. Norbert added a fifth goal when Joe Perry struck for his second of the contest, and the Green Knights added an empty-netter at 18:39 to push the score to its final tally, 6-2.

St. Norbert, back-to-back champions in 2011-12, advances to Saturday’s national final against the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Oswego State and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Reid Campbell and Tyler Zepeda added a goal each for the Green Knights (27-3-1).

SUNY-Geneseo, down two goals early, rallied to tie the game in the second period on goals from Cam Hampson and Justin Scharfe.

“We have a very resilient team, and that starts with the leadership,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said.

The game turned after a five-minute penalty to Geneseo forward Zach Martin for a hit to the head. St. Norbert didn’t score on the man advantage, but they recaptured the momentum.

“Power plays, you don’t have to score goals for them to be effective,” Coghlin said. “It’s about puck possession. On that power play, we actually rolled three different groups of players.”

Not long after that power play expired, the Green Knights seized control of the game thanks to Hill’s stick — and his body control.

“That first one, it was a 4-on-4, the puck went up to Erik Cooper,” Hill said. “There was a little cutback behind the net and he was able to get the puck and lets a shot go and it hits me square in the chest. I was going to the net there, and I just fell right into it,”

“That’s a goal-scorer’s goal, right there,” Coghlin interjected with a laugh.

“That second one there, Cullen Bradshaw dishes it to me, I went in on the goalie. I get him to go down and go around the net,” Hill said. “I hear Cooper yelling, ‘Stuff it, stuff it!’ I went and stuffed it right in there. I just went to the net on both of those.”

In the third period, Geneseo tried to come back, but it seemed like every turn the Knights made, they were running into a backchecking St. Norbert forward or a defender.

“They play a very similar style to other teams we’ve played,” Schultz said. “Odd-man rushes, you just don’t get them. They’re big and physical, so you have to be prepared to take some punishment to make a play.

“Defensively, they’re as good a team as we’ve played this year,” Schultz added. “They move well, they look up ice, and they have a couple of forwards that are very, very talented.”

An evenly played first frame yielded only one goal, and it went St. Norbert’s way.

Geneseo had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone, and Brandon Hoogenboom collected the puck and sent it along the boards to the top of the left circle, where Campbell let a shot fly. The puck appeared to deflect upward in the low slot, and it beat Geneseo keeper Nick Horrigan high glove to put the Green Knights ahead by one.

St. Norbert thought it had taken a 2-0 lead at 13:16 when Marian Fiala buried the puck through a goalmouth scramble. Upon review, officials determined Horrigan had been interfered with and disallowed the goal, keeping the game at 1-0.

The Green Knights did make it 2-0 in the second period, though, on Perry’s first strike of the game, at 2:56, with help from Fiala and Sam Higgins.

But as has been their wont in the playoffs this season, Geneseo fought back.

Hampson fired a wrister past St. Norbert keeper David Jacobson at 4:32 to pull the Knights within one, and Scharfe tied the game at 7:44 after a scramble in front, tucking the puck underneath a diving Jacobson.


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