UWS-CSS clash one last timeThe University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets and College of St. Scholastica Saints will meet for the sixth time in nine years in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinals when the playoffs begin tonight at Mars Lakeview Arena.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets and College of St. Scholastica Saints will meet for the sixth time in nine years in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinals when the playoffs begin tonight at Mars Lakeview Arena.
The two-game (plus mini-game, if necessary) series finishes Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m. The Yellowjackets are 2-1 vs. the Saints this season, losing 5-1 and winning 6-4 on the opening weekend and then winning 4-3 on Jan. 24.
“If you look at it, there’s really no home team, or no road team. Just two teams playing for their lives,” St. Scholastica coach Mark Wick said Wednesday.
This will be the final meeting between the teams as members of the NCHA.
The conference tournament will mark the end of the seven-team NCHA after 41 years. The five Wisconsin-based members will form the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference hockey league in 2013-14, while St. Scholastica and St. Norbert College will join the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association.
UWS (11-12-2) was 1-10-1 the final 12 games and placed fifth (earning a playoff tiebreaker for the position over UW-River Falls).
After starting the season 4-11, CSS (11-13-1) finished fourth in the league by going 7-2-1 the last 10 games.
UWS is tied for last in offense in the NCHA, scoring 2.17 goals per game. St. Scholastica is last in defense, allowing 3.89 per game.
“We just haven’t scored many goals,” said UWS coach Dan Stauber, who’s in his 13th season. “That’s the result of running into good goalies (for No. 3-ranked UW-Eau Claire and No. 6 St. Norbert) which have accounted for six losses. We just haven’t put enough pucks on net.”
On the other hand, the Saints have found their offense the past 10 games, averaging 4.4 goals in that stretch.
“Since the start of the season, I’ve told our team we were capable of getting on a roll and making things happen,” said Wick, in his ninth season at CSS. “The players believed that, figured it out and turned it around.”
Three games in eight days, all on the road, provided the Saints with confidence Feb. 1-8. They defeated defending Division III champion St. Norbert 5-2, UW-Stevens Point 6-3 and league champion UW-Eau Claire 3-0.
Junior forward Pat Dalbec of Superior leads UWS in scoring with 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points in 25 games. He is also tied for third in the nation with eight power-play goals on the year.
Junior Drew Strandberg of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has seen the most action in net for the Yellowjackets, however he has yet to face the Saints this year. He has a 2.87 goals-against-average and a .866 saves percentage.
Senior forward Brett Corcoran finished second in NCHA scoring and has 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 22 games to lead the Saints. He has 85 points in 100 career games. Brothers Brandon (junior) and Dylan Nowakowski (freshman, have combined for 48 points. Junior goalie Colin Rundell has started the past five games.
B. Nowakowski is tied for second in NCAA Division III with five game-winning goals and seventh with seven power-play goals.
Both games this weekend may be heard live on 91.3 FM KUWS, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
’JACKET JOTTINGS: UWS leads the all-time series with CSS 84-36-9. … The only way into the 2013 NCAA Division III tournament, for either team, will be to win the NCHA playoff title and an automatic bid. … In the previous five NCHA playoff series between the programs, UWS is 6-1-3. Yet the Saints have won two of the series with mini-game victories in 2007 and 2010. … The Yellowjackets are 3-0-3 in their past six games at Mars Lakeview Arena. … The Saints have outscored opponents 34-26 in the first period. They 9-1-1 when they lead after the first period and 0-8 when trailing. … UWS is 7-2-1 when leading after the first period, but are 0-8 when trailing. … UWS and CSS last met in the Peters Cup playoffs in 2011 at Wessman Arena, which ended in a Superior sweep. … The last time the teams met in the Peters Cup at Mars ended in a pair of ties and a mini-game time. The Saints won in sudden death overtime of the mini-game on a Jeremy Dawes goal. … Both times the Saints have defeated the Yellowjackets in the Peters Cup have come by way of the mini-game.
Kevin Pates of the Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story.