STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- For the The UW-Stevens Point men's hockey team, the journey to an eleventh Frozen Four appearance, must go through a familiar foe, defending national champions St. Norbert College.
"We know they're kind of a rivalry team," UWSP Sophomore goalie Connor Ryckman said. "We come in each day, work our hardest and it's just another game for us. We come in and execute our game plan and that's all we need to do."
The Pointers and Green Knights have met four times before in the NCAA tournament, with two of them coming in the title game. The last time these two teams faced off, back in November, they played to a 1-1 tie, a small blemish on what has been an otherwise perfect season for UWSP. The Pointers believe they've grown since that game.
"I just think our confidence, that first half of the year was kind of a feeling out process, kind of trying to find our feet," senior Tanner Karty said. "We were winning games in different ways. I think we've really kind of found our identity and found the way that we want. Obviously we've been on, I guess you could say, a roll all year. But really since after that Christmas Break we've started to really put things together."
Pointers head coach Tyler Krueger believes St. Norbert will have put things together too.
"Everyone is playing their best," Krueger said. "They've solidified their lineup and got their lines and combinations switched up a little bit. But as far as X's and O's and system wise there's not a huge change, it's just minor. It just comes down to desperation and who can play the most detailed, clean hockey game."
The Pointers may have a big advantage Saturday, playing on their own ice at K.B. Willet Ice Arena, in front of the Pointer faithful.
"At our rink, there's not a team in the country that can beat us," senior Stephan Beauvais said. "So going into this game Saturday with that home ice advantage, playing in front of our fans, in front of our student section is something that is going to be great for us."
Saturday's game is set to begin at 7 p.m. in Stevens Point. The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the Frozen Four, and play a semifinal game at an undetermined location.