MARK COUCH, SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Last year, the Green Knights missed the NCAA Division-III Tournament for the first time in six seasons after they were eliminated from the final round of the NCHA Harris Cup Playoffs by Adrian College. This season, St. Norbert looks to get back to the NCAA Division-III Tournament, where they have become so used to competing every year.
“Our program expects to win national championships,” said forward and team captain, Erik Cooper ’16. St. Norbert has established itself as a national hockey powerhouse ever since Tim Coghlin was named head coach in 1993. Since 1997, the Green Knights have played in 15 NCAA Division III Tournaments, including nine Frozen Four appearances and national championships in 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Although it’s early in the season, St. Norbert has played well this year. The season opened with a 4-1 victory against Marian University on October 30th. The Green Knights are currently 7-1 on the year, and are on a six-game winning streak. The Green Knights are in first place of the National Collegiate Hockey Association’s North Division with 10 points.
One key to the team’s success has been the play of the freshmen on the team. Cooper praised the freshman on their play: “Our young guys have shown some great things so far. They’ve been steady and consistent, fitting nicely into roles that needed to be filled.” Having a freshman class full of skaters that can step in and contribute right away is invaluable to any college sports team.
After last season, the Green Knights lost their starting goalie, former Frozen Four MVP, Division III Player of the Year, and two time national champion, David Jacobson. Goalie, Tony Kujava ’17, has stepped right into his new starting role to fill the spot Jacobson left. Cooper called Kujava the team’s foundation and a game-changer. Through the first six games of this season, the Green Knights have only allowed 10 goals, for an average of 1.67 goals per game, while scoring 28 goals for an average of 4.67 goals per game. Senior forward, Michael Hill is the team’s leading goal scorer with four goals. Cooper leads the team in assists (4) and points (7).
Over the past weekend, the No. 8 Green Knights were tested against UW-Superior and No. 2 UW-Stevens Point in what Cooper called the “most important weekend in the first half of the season.” St. Norbert aced its early season test against the two UW schools, winning 4-0 against Superior and 5-2 against Stevens Point in consecutive nights. Five different Knights scored in the win against UWSP, which marked the Pointers’ first loss of the season and should vault the Knights even higher in the national rankings.