LEWISTON — In the portion of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four that involved coats, ties and buffet tables, Wisconsin-Stevens Point goaltender Brandon Jaeger was recognized for his work in the classroom.

Friday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee, 2,200 spectators and Oswego State figured out that Jaeger keeps a tidy, prolific office, too.

Jaeger, a junior from Champlin, Minn., made 45 saves and gave the Pointers a piggyback ride to a 2-1 semifinal victory over the Lakers.

Eighteen of those stops came in the third period.

“You definitely get in more of a zone when you’re seeing a lot of pucks,” Jaeger said. “You don’t have a lot of time to think when you’re getting peppered all night.”

And say cheese: It’s an all-Wisconsin title game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point (22-5-2) advanced to its first final in 16 years and will aim for its first championship since 1993, when it completed a run of four in five seasons.

It will face St. Norbert of De Pere, which won the title in 2011 and 2012. The teams tied 2-2 in their regular-season meeting Jan. 11.

Oswego State (22-7-2) goes home from its fifth consecutive trip to the Frozen Four without a title.

“The past two years, if you’ve been there, I would have said the better team won,” Oswego State coach Ed Gosek said. “Nothing against Stevens Point. They’re a very good team, a very good opponent, but I think when we go back and break down the film and reflect, we’ll see that we had more grade-A opportunities and the puck just didn’t fall for us.”

Joe Kalisz scored the game-winner for Stevens Point on the power play with 2:59 remaining in the second period.

But it was Jaeger and the Pointers’ penalty kill who guarded the ticket to the final with their lives, killing off an Oswego State 5-on-3 early in the third period.

“I thought special teams were the difference tonight,” Wisconsin-Stevens Point coach Chris Brooks said. “That was a big 5-on-3 penalty kill and a big power-play goal by Joey to put us ahead 2-1.”

Sean Gammage and Scott Henegar went to the box for roughing and cross-checking, respectively, in a 16-second span of the opening minute.

Four shots made it to Jaeger’s doorstep and several other screaming attempts nicked his body or caromed off the boards as they trickled wide.

Alex Kromm led the Pointers’ defense against the disparity, including an end-to-end rush that drained precious seconds from the clock.

Brandon Adams’ blistering try from the slot found a resting place between Jaeger’s glove and bread basket as the first penalty expired. Adams raised his head toward the rafters in disgust.

Then a last-ditch attempt by Alex Botten had eyes for the post, but Jaeger’s pad sent it for a detour over the glass and into the seats with one tick remaining on the second minor.

“I thought the guys did a good job eliminating traffic, and when Jags sees pucks, he’s as good as they come,” Brooks said. “He’s a big-game goalie, and that’s what we needed tonight.”

Failed 5-on-3s were an Oswego bugaboo all season, including a fruitless two-man advantage in a quarterfinal victory over Babson.

“We changed it up to give guys some different looks, but it just didn’t work out,” Gosek said. “I don’t think we were quite aggressive enough. It’s all the little things that come back to haunt you.”

Oswego State landed a 1-0 lead at 10:11 of the first period.

David Titanic’s dish from the right circle to the left circle set up Shawn Hulshof’s wrist shot to Jaeger’s stick side.

“I saw an open cage, and then unfortunately he got a stick on it, but it found a way,” Hulshof said. “It was a big turning point for us.”

But Stevens Point made its constant pressure – 18 shots on goal in the opening stanza – pay off.

The Pointers picked up the equalizer with exactly a minute remaining. Kyle Brodie rang the left post and set off a scramble in front of Oswego State goalie Matt Zawadzki.

Multiple players from each team attempted to get a stick on the loose puck before Kyle Sharkey swept it across.

“It got us over that edge,” Kalisz said. “When we score, when we get rolling, we’re as good as anybody.”

Jaeger was the unquestioned star of the second period, making 15 saves, including a couple that seemed no-doubters for the Lakers.

Chris Waterstreet had a breakaway after swiping the puck at center ice, but the Oswego freshman couldn’t get a clean shot when Jaeger charged from the crease and went for the poke check. Adams’ bid to drive home the deflection veered wide right.

Moments later, Jaeger — named the winner of the NCAA’s “Elite 89” Award on Thursday night for having the highest cumulative grade point average of any player in the semifinals — turned away Botten after another quick change of possession.

Stevens Point rode the crest of those efforts to the go-ahead goal.

Kalisz buried a blast from just beyond the left circle. Tyler Krueger and Alex Brooks picked up the assists.

“It was kind of a new thing we’ve been working on our power play,” Kalisz said. “I got the puck and saw I had an open lane, so I walked it down and kind of gave it all I had.”

Zawadzki made 29 saves for Oswego State, which entered the semifinal with a seven-game winning streak, including a 4-3 victory in the NCAAs over Frozen Four host Bowdoin.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: