LEWISTON —  Success on the power play isn’t just about scoring goals.

As St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin pointed out shortly after his team earned its seventh national championship appearance in 11 years, power plays are as much momentum-building opportunities as scoring opportunities.

It turned out the Green Knights were more grateful for the former than the latter in Friday night’s Division III hockey semifinal win over SUNY-Geneseo.

Geneseo seemed to have all of the momentum after it rallied from a 2-0 deficit early in the second period. Then junior forward Zach Martin drew a game misconduct 13:31 into the second period for contact to the head when he hit St. Norbert’s Joe Perry near the blue line and the Geneseo bench.

It turned out to be a fatal blow to Geneseo, even though St. Norbert could not score with the man advantage.

“The power play does a lot of different things,” Schultz said. “You can’t just evaluate the power play on goals scored. It’s time of possession in the offensive zone. It’s second chance opportunities. It’s a momentum-building opportunity, if you can build shift on shift.

The Green Knights went into construction mode by peppering Geneseo goalie Nick Horrigan with shots from below the tops of the circles. Horrigan fought off the first wave, keeping the score even for nearly three minutes before St. Norbert lost the man advantage when junior forward Chris Rial was whistled for tripping.

To underscore just how tenuous momentum can be, Geneseo won the ensuing faceoff and freshman forward Stephen Collins skated in on net from the left circle, drawing St. Norbert goalie David Jacobobson out of the crease.

“My d-men had back door, like they’re supposed to take. He had all shot so I came out and challenged him,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson, who was named the national player of the year less than 24 hours earlier, over-skated towards the corner and could only watch as Collins skated around him.

Perhaps Collins was more surprised than anyone at his good fortune, because he couldn’t get the puck off his stick to tuck it into the wide-open net and ended up stuffing it into the side of the cage.

“We were pretty happy to be in the situation where we tied it up 2-2, and we had a couple of opportunities to make it 3-2 that we didn’t capitalize on,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “Then we didn’t get much puck luck on the third and fourth goal.”

Michael Hill scored on a scrum in front of the net to put St. Norbert in front to stay. The Green Knights kept the pressure on, as Hill added an insurance goal 1:24 later. For the period, they outshot Geneseo, 18-7.

It was a remarkable turnaround from the four-minute stretch Geneseo dominated early in the period in which Cam Hampson and Justin Scharfe scored to tie it and Collins drew iron on a potential third goal.

“There was a moment in the second period, probably after it went 2-2, where it got a little quiet,” Coghlin said. “Then you saw the leadership of (senior defenseman) Reid Campbell and some of our seniors up and down the bench saying ‘Hey fellas, stay with the game plan. Be engaged here. Continue to talk to each other. This is not the time to get silent on each other.’ That resonated well with the guys and settled the troops back down.”


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