LAKE PLACID - The stage is set and, for the most part, the faces are familiar.
The field has been determined as the NCAA Division III men's ice hockey championships take place Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. This marks the fourth time in the past five years the Olympic Village will host the championships, and three of four teams competing have made recent trips here for the event.
Norwich, Oswego and St. Norbert College all appeared in Lake Placid in 2010, with the newcomer this time being the Amherst College Lord Jeffs, who downed Plattsburgh State 3-1 Saturday, March 10 to earn their berth.
St. Norbert College and Norwich University squared off in the NCAA Division III championship game two years ago when the event was last held at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. The teams face each other again in the first semifinal of two national semifinals Friday, March 16 in Lake Placid. Oswego plays Amherst College in the late game for a shot in Saturday's final.
Lou Reuter/News File Photo
St. Norbert and Norwich will face off at 4 p.m. to open Friday's semifinal doubleheader in a matchup featuring teams who have been crowned national champions in Lake Placid. Amherst and Oswego will then cap off the evening in the second game that starts at 7:30 p.m.
St. Norbert and Norwich have captured the last two national titles and are no strangers when it comes to meeting up in recent NCAA tournaments. This marks the third year in a row that the two teams will clash during the national semifinals.
The Green Knights come in as the defending champion after defeating Adrian College in last year's title game in Minneapolis, Minn., and they knocked off the Cadets 3-2 in semifinal action. The last time the final four was held in Lake Placid was 2010. Norwich claimed a 2-1 victory in the final against St. Norbert in double overtime to claim the title that year.
The Cadets head into Lake Placid as the nation's top-ranked team in the USCHO poll with a 23-2-2 record. Junior Pier-Oliver Cotnior, a forward from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec leads the team in scoring with 21 goals, 20 assists and 41 points. He's amassed 100 points in three seasons in 85 games played for the Cadets.
Travis Janke, a sophomore forward from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, is second in scoring for Norwich with 29 points, including 28 assists, and Kyle Thomas is third. Thomas, a junior from Waltham, Mass, has 16 goals and 21 assists heading into this weekend's action.
Sophomores Parker Carroll and Chris Czarnota have handled all but 10 minutes of the goaltending duties this season for Norwich. Carroll, of West Chester, Pa., has a 16-1-1 record that includes three shutouts. Czarnota, of Wakefield, Mass. posted an 8-1-1 mark, with three of his wins also coming in shutouts.
Norwich is led by head coach Mike McShane, who is in his 17th season behind the Cadets' bench.
St. Norbert brings a 19-5-5 record to Lake Placid, where it looks to claim its third Division III national championship since winning the title here in 2008.
The Green Knights, who hail from De Pere, Wis., are led in scoring by senior forward Johan Ryd. The native of Sodertalje, Sweden has 15 goals, 23 assists and 38 points in 29 games played. Cullen Bradshaw of Medicine Hat, Alberta, is next in points scored with eight goals and 22 assists. Freshman David Jacobson has been the Green Knights go-to goaltender this season. The Janesville, Wis. native has appeared in 23 of St. Norbert's 29 games this season and has compiled a 17-2-3 record with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
The Oswego Lakers have sat atop the men's DIII rankings for much of the season, but dropped back two positions following a 3-2 loss to SUNY Plattsburgh in the SUYNAC championship game two weekends ago. Oswego owns and impressive 23-3-2 mark that includes last Saturday's 5-0 win over Elmira in NCCA quarterfinal action.
This is the third straight year the Lakers have reached the frozen four under head coach Ed Gosek, who has led the school's hockey program since 2003.
Jon Whitelaw, a junior from Huntsville, Ont. leads the team in scoring with 19 goals, 22 assists and 41 points. Junior Paul Rodrigues of Etobicoke, Ontario is second with 36 points, and Luke Moodie, also from Ontario, is third in scoring with 33 points.
Andrew Hare, a junior from Burlington, Ontario, is Oswego's top goalie. He's played in 25 games and owns a 20-3-2 record.
In his 29th season leading the team, head coach Jack Arena has his Lord Jeffs making their first appearance in the frozen four. Amherst brings a 24-3-1 record to Lake Placid and is ranked second in the USCHO poll.
The Lord Jeffs have plenty of balance in scoring column, with 15 players compiling 10 points or more. Mike Moher, a junior forward from Toronto tops the Amherst offense with 11 goals, 16 assists and 29 points. Mark Colp of Wareham, Mass. is second with 24 points and Aaron Deutsch, a freshman from Lloyd Harbor is third with 22 points, including a team-high 18 assists.
Jonathan La Rose, a senior from Edmonton, Alberta, is Amherst's top netminder. He's appeared in 21 games and has a 19-1-1 record that includes six shutout victories. La Rose returned to the ice this season after not playing a year ago when he transfered from Neumann College, where he appeared in four games during the 2009-10 campaign.