Nation’s top team flexes its muscles against men’s hockey


Buffalo State Sports Information

Junior captain Brett Hope leads the Bengals with 7 points.

Dave DeLuca, Sports Editor

When it comes to Division III men’s hockey, St. Norbert is second to none. Having won the national championship three of the last four years and appearing in the NCAA tournament 15 times since 1997, St. Norbert is in a class of its own.

The No. 1 team in the country flexed its muscles over the weekend in a sweep of Buffalo State (1-5-2). The Bengals fell, 7-0, on Friday and lost again on Saturday, 8-0.

“It was a long weekend for us,” Buffalo State head coach Nick Carriere said. “We faced some tough competition, and if anything, it was a revealing weekend for us…There’s a reason they won the national championship last year. They compete and they don’t lay off the pedal at any point.”

St. Norbert, located in De Pere, Wisconsin, has a hockey tradition that many schools could only dream of.

“It seems like all they do in Wisconsin is go to hockey games and watch the (Green Bay) Packers,” sophomore forward Nick Berst joked.

On any given night the Green Knights can pack 2,000 in their ice arena. Even with a large majority of the school’s students on Thanksgiving break, the attendance for Friday’s game was 844.

The Green Knights give their fans lots to cheer about, too. They average 5.7 goals-per-game and just under 40 shots per contest.

“They were fast, they were really, really fast,” Berst said, “and they kept their game simple. As soon as they got the puck in the neutral zone they’d hit the red line and they were on you immediately. They didn’t stop.”

The Green Knights jumped out to 1-0 lead just 1:48 into game one on Friday. They added another goal with just 12 seconds left in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. St. Norbert didn’t let up, peppering Buffalo State with five more goals and dominating Buffalo State in shots-on-goal with a 38-12 edge.

“It was really an eye-opener,” junior forward and captain Brett Hope said. “It showed us how we have to play every game, every period, if we want to be an elite team in this conference.”

Buffalo State fell on Saturday, 8-0. St. Norbert had a distinct advantage yet again in shots-on-goal, 37-17. The Green Knights finished off their dominant weekend on special teams with five power-play goals. They had three in the game on Friday.

After committing 10 penalties on Friday, the Bengals went to the box six times on Saturday. The penalties have been mounting this season and St. Norbert took advantage.

“We need to be more disciplined,” Berst said. “Against a team like St. Norbert, where you put them on the power play even two or three times they’re going to capitalize on at least one or two opportunities. Being down one guy or two guys is only going to hurt us in the end.”

Buffalo State fell to 0-4-2 in its last six games and haven’t won since beating Cortland, 3-2, on Nov. 1. The Bengals are on a four-game losing skid, as their last three opponents have a combined record of 20-2-1.

The team’s early-season woes can be attributed to poor defense. Through eight games, the Bengals are giving up 5.1 goals-per-game. Last season, they gave up just 2.6. However, Buffalo State is playing with a new goaltender for the first time in five years with the graduation of Kevin Carr, the most prolific goalie in school history.

He owns ten school records, including saves (3,225), shutouts (9), save percentage (.921), and wins (45). As a senior, Carr became just the second Buffalo State player to be named an All-American, taking home third team honors.

Carr’s departure has been an adjustment.

“There was no other goalie like Kev in D-III hockey last year,” Hope said. “In my mind he was the best goalie in the country. We were able to make mistakes and he’d bail us out. This year, not so much. We need to bare down defensively and keep the game simple, shoot pucks out of our d-end and spend more time in our offensive zone.”

Sophomore Mike DeLavergne began the season as team’s starting goaltender, but a recent injury has pushed freshman Ian Sylves into action. Sylves has faced 28 shots or more in all four of his starts this year.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Kevin Carr in the pipes or it’s Ian, or Mike,” Berst said,” we just need to button up defensively. We need to box guys out, we need to pick up sticks. We can’t give teams the opportunity to get two, three, four wacks after the first shot. That’s what it comes down to. It doesn’t matter who’s in net, we have to be more tough in front.”

The Bengals will look to rebound this weekend with a pair of SUNYAC games on the slate. Buffalo State hosts Brockport (4-5-1) on Friday before hosting Geneseo (5-3) on Saturday. It may not get any easier for the Bengals. Brockport is fresh off winning the Rutland Herald Invitational and Geneseo upset No. 5 Oswego over the weekend.


“This is the biggest weekend of the year, in my opinion,” Berst said. “We have four playoff points on the line. We can’t give these away. The SUNYAC is the best D-III division there is. Every game is always tight, you’re in for a battle every night. We can’t keep letting these important points slip away each weekend.”


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