GRAEME GALLAGHER | SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
On Friday, the no. 3 ranked St. Norbert Men’s Hockey team pulled off a dominating 2-0 victory over Aurora. Playing on home ice, the Green Knights outshot the Spartans 37-5, while Seniors Pijus Rulevicius and Blake Thompson scored their first goals of the season. On Saturday, the Green Knights held off the Spartans again, 4-3, to complete the weekend sweep of their conference foes.
Coming off of a rough loss to Lake Forest last Saturday, where they gave up 5 goals, the Knights quickly took control of the game on Friday. They limited the Spartans to only 1 shot in the first period and killed off 2 power plays effectively. On the offensive side, St. Norbert dominated possession and the pacing of the game. They created many chances and shot on goal 12 times, but to no avail.
Entering the second period, the Green Knights focused on being more physical. Big hits and aggressive play from the Knights forced Aurora to turn the puck over multiple times, leading to multiple chances for St. Norbert. With 12:17 remaining in the second period, some beautiful passing in center ice lead to Senior Pijus Rulevicius slotting home for his first goal of the season. Assisting in the play was Luke Karakas and Dominick Sacco. After this, St. Norbert kept the pressure up until the end of the period and outshot the Spartans 13-3.
The third period was riddled with penalties from both teams and eventually led to a 4 on 3 power play goal for the Knights. After receiving a pass from Tanner Froese, Senior Blake Thompson ripped a slap shot that whizzed pass the Aurora goalie Hunter Vorva, making the score 2-0 with 9:19 remaining in the game. For the second time on the night, Dominick Sacco assisted on the play. This was St. Norbert’s fourth shutout of the year and improves their record to 4-1.
Saturday they faced off with the Spartans again at the Cornerstone Center. They would need some late game heroics to pull of the win. Aurora came out confident and after 2 periods the score was 1-1.
Early in a wild third Spartan’s Brendan Logan scored and the Green Knights found themselves down 2-1 and staring at a 2nd loss in 3 games. But goals from Brad Pung and Luke Karakas within a minute to put the Knights back in the lead. Aurora’s Raurie Petrich would, just 72 seconds later, find twine again to put the game even for the 3rd time in the game. Just under halfway left to go in the period, Dominick Sacco found the Knights 4th goal of the day. This would prove to be enough as St. Norbert saw out the tense victory over the Spartans.
The Green Knights improve to 5-1 on the season with this weekend’s results. They currently sit at no. 1 in the NCAA west regional rankings and third no. 3 nationally in the USCHO.com DIII poll. Next up for the Green Knights are two non-conference games against UW-Superior on Friday and UW-Stevens Point on Saturday.