DE PERE - St. Norbert College's two-year reign atop NCAA Division III hockey came to an abrupt end when the Green Knights dropped a 3-1 decision to UW-Eau Claire in a NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinal game at the Cornerstone Community Center.
The Green Knights, who won the last two NCAA Division III national titles, saw their season end at 23-6-1. Eau Claire, making its first Frozen Four appearance, takes a 22-5-2 record into Friday's national semifinal against Utica College in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Eau Claire scored the important first goal when Jon Waggoner scored from the top of the face-off circle just 1 minute 39 seconds into the game. The Green Knights answered later in the period when Carl Ekstrom streaked down the slot and scored into an open net with a power-play goal at the 8:23 mark.
The Blugolds jumped ahead again with a power-play goal, this one coming at 19:16. Chris Heineman scored his sixth goal of the season with a shot from out front after it appeared Eau Claire was offsides. Play continued however with the Blugolds converting on the chance.
St. Norbert had several opportunities to tie the game, but came up empty on three second-period power-play chances. The Green Knights outshot the Blugolds 40-21, but couldn't find the equalizer in the last two periods. Joe Perry's short shot from the doorstop with about 2:15 remaining for the final top scoring chance for the Green Knights.
Kurt Weston's empty-net goal with 42 seconds left sealed the win for the Blugolds.
Brandon Stephenson made 39 saves in net for Eau Claire, while David Jacobson made 18 saves for the Green Knights. Eau Claire was 1-for-3 on the power play, while St. Norbert was 1-for-4.
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