FOND DU LAC, Wis. - With a 3-0 shutout win over Concordia Wisconsin, the Marian men's hockey team (18-5-3, 15-4-1 NCHA) earned a spot in the NCHA semifinals and a trip to St. Norbert College.
DROPPING THE PUCK:
Marian and St. Norbert will square off in a two-game series with a mini-game if necessary Feb. 26-27 at Cornerstone Ice Arena to determine who earns a berth into the NCHA Championship game. Both games will begin at 7:05 p.m. with the mini-game to be played immediately following game two of the series if necessary.
HARRIS CUP QUARTERFINALS WRAP UP:
Marian advanced in the conference tournament for the first time since the 2011 MCHA Championship with a 3-0 win against Concordia Wisconsin. The Sabres scored a pair of goals in the first period, one coming 26-seconds into the game, and added a second period power play goal to down the Falcons. MU outshot CUW 36-18 in the contest with Mike Baldwin stopping all 18 Falcon shots for his fourth shutout of the season.
The Sabres and Green Knight's opened the season with a home-and-home series where the road team won both games. SNC pulled away late in the opener with a pair of third period goals for a 4-1 final before Marian earned the program's first victory over St. Norbert the following night at Cornerstone with a 4-2 final.
HIGH POWERED OFFENSE VERSUS HOT GOALIE:
A key matchup over the weekend will be the high powered offense of SNC versus Mike Baldwin in net for the Sabres. The Green Knights rank third in the nation for scoring offense at 4.48 goals per game and have the 13th best power play at 23.8-percent. Baldwin has put together a great year in goal for Sabres and earned a spot on the All-NCHA team ranking third in the nation with a 1.37 goals-against average and eighth in the country with a .940 save percentage. Baldwin hasn't allowed a goal in his last 132:46 in net for Marian.
GREEN KNIGHT GOALTENDER CONUNDRUM:
The Green Knights have a pair of goaltenders who split time all season long and are worthy of earning the start in net for both games of the series. Tony Kujava went 12-1-1 on the year with a 1.25 goals-against average to go with a .937 save percentage, while T.J. Black was 9-1-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage as well. During the regular season series Kujava played 78:00 of the series with 20 saves, while Black played 40:00 and had 12 saves.
The series this weekend will feature six of the 12 All-NCHA selections after SNC and Marian each had three players selected. The Green Knights had a pair of forwards selected in captain Erik Cooper (11-17--28) and Michael Hill (14-9--23) to go with Blake Thomopson (2-16--18) in defense. Cooper was also voted as the NCHA Player of the Year, while Marian had forward Derek Thorogood (9-25--34), defenseman Gianni Mangone (11-12--23), and goaltie Mike Baldwin (13-2-3, 1.37, .940) selected as All-NCHA. The Green Knights had no selections on the All-Freshman team, however, while the Sabres had Mangone and forward Jake Howie (10-8--18).
OTHER HARRIS CUP SEMIFINAL:
St. Scholastica downed Lawrence 6-2 in the other Harris Cup Quarterfinal to earn a trip to top-seeded Adrian College in the other semifinal this weekend. This will be the second consecutive weekend the two teams square off after the Bulldogs swept CSS on the road in the regular season finale. St. Scholastica will look to knock off an Adrian program that hasn't lost at home since Nov. 30, 2014 against Neumann in non-conference action.
Ticket information for the series can be found by clicking here with tickets being offered for $6, $8, and $10. Section C and D are set aside for Sabres fans as well as select seats in section B. Online sales will shut off Friday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. with tickets also available for purchase prior to each game at Cornerstone starting at 5:30 p.m.
The winners of both semifinals this weekend will meet up Saturday, March 5 for a single game to determine the Harris Cup champion and earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.