UWSP men’s hockey wins National Championship
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s
hockey team won the NCAA Division III National Title at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.,
Saturday, March 26.
After finishing as the National Runner-up the last two
seasons, the third-ranked Pointers (24-5-2) won 5-1 over seventh-ranked SUNY
Geneseo (20-5-6) in the National Semifinal Friday, March 25, to advance to the
National Championship Game for the third year in row.
In a rematch of the 2014 National Championship Game, UWSP
was tied 1-1 late in the first period with second-ranked St. Norbert (25-4-2)
when it used a goal from senior defenseman Alex Brooks to take a 2-1 lead, and
went on to a 5-1 victory to claim its fifth National Title in program history.
“The first two years I was here, we made it to the final
game and not winning, it just left a bitter taste in your mouth,” said senior
forward Joe Kalisz. “And now it’s kind of a relief just to know that we did it,
“It feels really good,” said senior forward Evan Dixon. “The
last couple of years we’ve been blessed to make it to this game, and that
feeling of coming up short has stuck with us as a group.
“We know what it takes to get to this game as a program and
as a team,” he said. “And we were fortunate enough to come out on top this
The Pointers used a 4-3 win over 12th-ranked UW-River Falls
(16-7-5) in double overtime in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic
Conference (WIAC) Tournament Championship Game March 5 to secure a Pool C
(at-large) bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, where they opened with a
5-2 win at top-ranked Adrian (Mich.) (24-4-1) March 19 to earn their third
consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.
In its 12th appearance in the National Semifinals, UWSP
struck first against Geneseo Friday afternoon, as junior forward Jono Davis
scored into the game
on an assist from senior forward Drew Graves to give the team a 1-0 lead.
Freshman forward Tanner Karty scored on an assist from
senior forward Nick D’Avolio at the 8:40 mark of the first period to give the
Pointers a 2-0 lead, while Graves had a goal with 4:10 left in the opening
period on assists from Kalisz and senior defenseman Alex Brooks to push the
team’s lead to 3-0.
“I thought we were ready to play,” said UWSP men’s hockey
head coach Chris Brooks. “For me it wasn’t about getting a lead, it was just
about controlling momentum.”
Junior forward Eliot Grauer had a goal at the mark of the second period on
an assist from Karty to make it 4-0, while Geneseo scored with to go in the second period to
close to within 4-1 heading into the third period.
There, Grauer scored an unassisted goal at the mark to close the scoring on a
5-1 win, as sophomore goalie Max Milosek made 11 saves in the victory that sent
the Pointers to the National Championship Game.
“Our guys came out right away and did a great job sticking
with the game plan,” said coach Brooks. “And then we put together a great third
period there to close it out down the stretch.”
It was the third National Championship Game appearance in a
row for the Pointers, who lost to St. Norbert 3-1 in 2014 and 5-2 to Trinity (Conn.)
last year, after Trinity scored with 3:52 left in the third period to break a
2-2 tie and then added two empty-net goals in the final 37 seconds.
Joining UWSP in the National Championship Game Saturday
night was St. Norbert, which won 8-7 in double overtime against sixth-ranked
University of Massachusetts-Boston (
beat the Pointers 5-2 at K.B. Willett Arena Nov. 21.
“Watching it on video and watching our team play, I just thought
our team was different than we were when we played them earlier in the year,”
said coach Brooks. “So we weren’t really focused on the earlier result.
“We prepared from some tendencies we saw in that game, and
we prepared on some tendencies that we saw on some of St. Norbert’s other
games,” he said. “And we had a clear game plan going in.”
UWSP struck early Saturday night against St. Norbert junior
goalie Tony Kujava (Division III-best 1.58 goals against average), as St.
Norbert was whistled for a hooking penalty 40 seconds into the game, and Grauer
scored a power-play goal on an assist from D’Avolio at the mark to give the Pointers a 1-0 lead.
“There was like eight seconds left or something (on the
power-play), just a quick draw,” said Grauer. “I shot, the (defenseman) was
kind of screened, and just barely got it in.”
St. Norbert tied that game when a pass went off the stick of
UWSP junior forward Lawrence Cornellier and past Milosek for a power-play goal
to even the score at 1-1 at the
mark of the first period.
It stayed that way until late in the period, when Alex
Brooks scored a power-play goal on assists from Kalisz and Davis with 1:08 to
play in the period to give the Pointers a 2-1 lead.
“I rang that first (shot) off the post (earlier in the
period) and was a little disappointed, but then got the second one and was just
like, ‘don’t miss again,’” said Alex Brooks. “Fortunately, it went in.”
UWSP carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but Kalisz, the team’s top
scorer and the fifth-leading scorer in Division III this season, suffered an
injury two minutes into the second period and was unable to return.
“That was tough, with the doctor telling me that ‘you’re not
going back out,’” said Kalisz.
“I went up in the stands and found a couple of the guys up there and sat with
them, and just had a different perspective of the game.
“It was awesome watching my teammates,” he said.
UWSP held on to its 2-1 lead until late in the second
period, when junior forward Kyle Sharkey scored on an assist from freshman
defenseman Stephan Beauvais with 1:20 left to give the Pointers a 3-1 lead
heading into the second intermission.
“The big goal in that game was Sharkey’s goal late in the
second,” said coach Brooks. “Not only do we score, but we also get the power
play, and I thought we continued to control that momentum right through the
Cornellier increased the lead to 4-1 with a power-play goal
4:44 into the third period on assists from Sharkey and junior forward Jacob
Barber, while Barber scored on an assist from Sharkey less than two minutes
later to make it 5-1 at the 6:38 mark.
“We scored some big-time goals,” said coach Brooks.
“Especially in the third period, I thought the line of Barber, Sharkey and
Cornellier were phenomenal.
“They played an excellent third period, which we needed out
of them, and Sharks made a big-time play there to Barbs on the fifth goal,” he
said. “I thought it was a great team effort.”
That proved to cap the scoring for the Pointers, who stormed
the ice at the final horn and celebrated their 5-1 victory that claimed the
“It was awesome,” said Kalisz. “It’s an experience that
you’ll never forget.”
“Our defensemen were excellent in that game, took away a lot
of space and really limited St. Norbert to a lot of secondary opportunities,”
said coach Brooks. “The big thing for me in that game, St. Norbert built
momentum off of two power plays late in the first period.
“And other than that, I really liked the way we played them
five-on-five,” he said.
Sharkey had a goal and two assists, Barber added a goal and
an assist, and Milosek made 21 saves in the win, as
Milosek and Alex Brooks were named to the All-Tournament Team along with
Grauer, who was selected as the Most Outstanding Player.
The National Title was the fifth in program history for the
Pointers, who also won National Championships in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993.
“I explained to my guys, ‘you have to understand, there’s
way more people involved in us winning a championship than the 28 guys that are
in our locker room,’” said coach Brooks. “I had a number of alums reach out to
me, congratulating me.
“And the one message I said back to them was, I’m
congratulating them and thanking them for what they’ve done for our program and
the role that they’ve played in allowing us to have what we have today,” he