WATERVILLE — Fate. Karma. Divine intervention. Magical pixie dust. Whatever the ingredient driving the Colby College hockey team at this point in the season, none of the Mules seem all that interested in trying to pinpoint the root cause.

With the second longest current unbeaten streak in the country, Colby (17-10-2) is en route to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four for the first time in program history this week.

Freshman Justin Grillo’s goal with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation vaulted the Mules to a 2-1 win over third-ranked Geneseo last Saturday night in the national quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal matchup this Friday against No. 1 St. Norbert at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York.

Yes, that Lake Placid. Perhaps it’s only fitting that Colby is headed to the hallowed ground that gave birth to the 1980 Miracle On Ice to face four-time national champion St. Norbert (25-4-1).

“Sometimes I joke that it’s karma,” Grillo said Monday following an energetic practice at Alfond Rink. “After the snowstorm last week, Billy Overby and I saw a kid walking alone through the blizzard, so we stopped and picked the kid up. After the game, (Overby) was like, ‘That was karma from that. It had to be something.’

“It could be karma, it could be puck luck, it could be a number of things. I don’t know, but it’s something I’ll never forget.”

Senior netminder Sean Lawrence, who made 17 saves in the third period alone against Geneseo to give Colby hope, has gone 7-0-2 between the pipes in his last nine starts to mirror the team’s current unbeaten stretch. The Mules have beaten teams ranked in the nation’s top seven in each of their last three games.

Lawrence was less willing to quote karma, instead focusing on the Mules finally getting some bounces to go their way over the last month.

“I think we’re getting a lot of good bounces and luck,” Lawrence said. “I think we went through the January period where we did not get any puck luck, and the other teams we were playing got a lot of puck luck. Maybe we waited to get ours at the right time. I’m not complaining.”

“I’ve been around 32 years of college games, plus four as a player, so you’ve almost seen everything,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald added. “When you really peel back the layers in terms of what that game meant for our players, our seniors in particular, the Colby community, and we’re going to the Frozen Four. When I looked at the clock and saw 1.6 seconds, I had this moment of peace and quiet joy. I knew it would be so meaningful to so many people, and that made me very happy.

“Given the dramatic fashion in which we did it, I think it was appropriate for how this team has played and how the season has gone.”

Lawrence owns the nation’s second-best save percentage at .941 and a goals against average of 2.01. In the NCAA tournament, Lawrence is 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA and a .959 save percentage.

The Mules have averaged just a tick below their season average with 3.00 goals per game through the first two rounds of the tournament, with five different players registering goals. Three of Colby’s four lines have registered goals, as has junior defenseman Thomas Stahlhuth.

The significance of an overall team effort hasn’t been lost on the group.

“We’re really optimistic, I’ll be honest with you,” Colby senior defenseman Dan Dupont said. “We’re excited, and we think we can win a national championship. Everyone we’re playing this time of year is good, we know that. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we’ll win games. That’s the only thing we’re focusing on now.”

No one’s concerned with karma, fate or magical pixie dust. Not now. Not with the Frozen Four here in just a few short days.

“I hate to say it, but I still can’t put it into words,” Grillo said. “(Saturday) was easily the best moment of my life. I don’t remember actually seeing it go in — I just remember everyone screaming. But knowing how hard we worked all year, just to have that for everyone else in the room, it was just a great feeling.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC