February 17, 2012

No. 2 Norwich Slips by Men's Hockey, 3-1

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – With a pair of goals in the second period and an empty-netter in the third the second ranked Cadets of Norwich University were able to slip by men's hockey by the final score of 3-1 Friday evening in an ECAC East contest.

The Cadets who were ranked first in Division III men's hockey for most of the season notched their 20th win of the season with Friday's decision.  Norwich now stands at 20-2-1 on the year, and 15-2-0 in the ECAC East conference.  For UMass Boston, Friday's loss dropped the Beacons to 12-9-3 on the season, 8-8-1 in the conference.

Norwich who has secured their 14th straight regular season title last Saturday had their eyes set on UMass Boston since falling to the Beacons by the final of 2-1 back in January.  UMass had their eyes set on recording their first-ever sweep of the Cadets in front of Norwich's home crowd. 

In the first the action was back-and-forth for all 20 minutes of the opening period as both teams managed just five shots.  The second period belonged to the Cadets as they outshot UMass 16-7 on their way to a 2-0 lead.  Both goals were scored in the final five minutes of period on even strength plays.

After the second intermission the Beacons got on the scoreboard at the 11:46 mark when Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) drove home his ninth goal of the season.  Assisting the play was John Houston (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Anthony Fitti (Havertown, Pa.).

Throughout the final period, the Beacons offense was all over the ice as they outshot Norwich 14-7.  Freshman netminder Alex Scola (Exeter, N.H.) made his first career start against the Cadets and kept them off the scoreboard throughout the final frame, giving the Beacons the momentum they needed to tie the game.  On the night Scola made a combined 25 saves against his first nationally ranked opponent.

Unfortunately, Norwich would skate by with the one goal lead until the closing minute of play when they got the empty-netter after the Beacons pulled Scola to gain the extra-attacker. 

Both teams were scoreless on their power-play opportunities as the Beacons went 0-for-4 and the Cadets 0-for-3.  Overall Norwich managed just two more shots than UMass Boston 28-26.

Even with Friday's loss the Beacons still remain in the hunt for a home game in next week's ECAC East tournament.  With Skidmore College, who remains just one point ahead of UMass Boston in the conference standings, falling to Castleton State College by the final of 9-4 the Beacons need to pullout a win tomorrow at St. Michael's College and with another loss by Skidmore would host the first round next weekend. 

Tomorrow's contest with St. Michael's is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start.