St. Norbert defeats Salve Regina in 2OT thriller
Salve Regina lost a hard-fought, double-overtime battle with St. Norbert College March 24 in the Division III men’s ice hockey national championship. For the Seahawks, the game marked Salve Regina’s first appearance in an NCAA title game for any sport.
Although the Seahawks finished just short of their first national title, the loss closed out the finest season in program history. The team closed the season with a 22-6-2 record and made its first Frozen Four and national championship appearances.
Scoring for the Seahawks were Cameron Russo ’19 and Paul Boutoussov ’21. Goaltender Blake Wojtala ’19, who made 102 saves over a two-day span, was named to the all-tournament team alongside teammates Vincenzo Renda ’21 and Erik Udahl ’21.
“The credit is to the guys, they’re the ones that bought in from day one when they stepped on campus,” said head coach Zech Klann. “The older guys took the younger guys under their wing and they bought into it, so all that credit is to the guys. Those are the guys that really came together as group – in all my experience I’ve never seen a team that’s this close, and that’s the honest truth.”
Early-season success helped the Seahawks gain the University’s first ever at-large bid to an NCAA tournament despite losing to Nichols College in the Commonwealth Coast Conference semifinals. Wins over perennial NCAA contenders in non-conference play, coupled with regular-season success throughout the difficult conference schedule, helped the Seahawks work their way into the national conversation. The Seahawks went 9-1 this season when facing opponents who were ranked at the time of the contest.