The Lumberjack hockey team will add a tenth national championship to their collection as they defeated the Erie Community College Kats 7-4 in the last NJCAA National Championship. This matchup was a repeat of last year's championship game when the Jacks were victorious, so they were familiar with meeting each other in this situation.
As the first period started, the Jacks would commit a penalty in which Erie would take advantage of and take the lead 1-0. The Jacks have not trailed in very many games, so this was some unfamiliar territory. But with less than two minutes after trailing, Lumberjack forward Zach Garrett would tie the game off a breakaway opportunity as Andrew Carriere would get the assist.
The Lumberjacks would add two more before the Kats responded with one of their own as the period ended. At the first intermission, the Jacks led 3-2.
With the game resuming in the second, both teams had their opportunities, but a power play goal by Nial Mills would give the Jacks a 4-2 advantage. Not to be outdone, the Kats were able to sneak one by Lumberjack goaltender Kenny Fitzgerald to bring them back within one.
With the end of the period drawing closer, Erie would get one more to tie it 4-4 going into the second intermission.
This will mark the tenth national championship for the Lumberjacks and the seventh for head coach Travis Rybchinski.
"We came out and battled in the third and got the job done" stated Rybchinski. "We battled through adversity but everything worked out well."
Sophomore captain Nial Mills added, "We knew we had to play our best period of the year and come out and play our game."
Getting the victory in the net was sophomore Kenny Fitzgerald. He was in the net last year when the Jacks grabbed their ninth championship. Fitzgerald commented "it has been a surreal experience these few years… but I knew we were going to do well out there and get this one for us."
This was the last hockey championship for the NJCAA before it disbanded due to a lack of teams.
Coach Rybchinski finished it by saying, "we are glad to bring this back to the town of Bottineau, and long live those Lumberjacks!"