SUDBURY, Ont. – Five Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League alumni are celebrating a NCAA D-III championship after their University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers side went unbeaten in regulation play all season before going on to edge the Norwich University Cadets 3-2 in overtime Saturday, to capture a national crown before a sellout crowd on home ice.
Led by sophomore goaltender Connor Ryckman (Soo Thunderbirds) and senior defenceman Ethan Strong (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners), who served as an assistant captain on the squad, the Pointers went an impressive 29-0-2 en route to taking the title.
Among the other NOJHL alumni on the UWSP roster were forwards; junior Logan Fredericks (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners), sophomore Brandon McReynolds (Cochrane Crunch) and freshman Austin Anselmo (Hearst Lumberjacks).
Ryckman made 28 appearances in net for UW-Steven’s Point this season and registered an impressive 26-0-1 record with a stingy 1.23 goals-against average and a stellar .946 save percentage while posting three shutouts.
His efforts saw him named Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year and tabbed a first team NCAA D-III All-American.
In his time in the NOJHL, Ryckman went 11-1 with the Thunderbirds in 2015-16 with a 1.49 average and a save mark of .931.
Strong was a three-year standout in the NOJHL where he garnered first all-star team laurels on defence and was also selected the league’s top defenceman in his final campaign.
He was also member of the Gold Miners squad that won the NOJHL championship in 2013-14.
Fredericks was an offensive force for Kirkland Lake in 2015-16 where he racked up 89 points in 53 outings, including notching 51 goals.
McReynolds meanwhile also produced at over a point-per-game clip as he collected 68 in 54 contests on 27 tallies and 47 assists while with Cochrane.
As for Anselmo, he skated in 68 career games in the NOJHL, with both Hearst and Kirkland Lake, and had 57 points while scoring 15 times and helping set-up 42 others.
Among those on the NCAA D-III finalist Norwich squad was former NOJHLer Brett Ouderkirk, who saw time with the Gold Miners, Iroquois Falls Eskis and the Mattawa Blackhawks between 2014 and 2016 while picking up 93 points in 94 outings on 35 markers and 58 helpers.