BOSTON, Mass.—In a game that had no bearings in the standings, two of the top 12 teams in the nation went blow-for-blow for 50 minutes, before #1 Norwich University (21-2-1, 16-1-1 ECAC East) scored two late goals to earn a 4-2 win over #12 UMass Boston (18-5-2, 11-5-2) Saturday afternoon before a sold out Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena.
Before the game the Beacons honored the five members of the Class of 2013, as Tim Richter (Naugatuck, Conn.), Tim Niedzielak (Chicago, Ill.), Rob Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.), Steve Weston (Henniker, N.H.) and Mike DeGrazia (Novi, Mich.) played the final regular-season home games of their careers. The group of five seniors played their final game in front of a huge crowd of 905, the first sellout of the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena in over a decade.
Despite the loss, UMass Boston will be the number two team in the ECAC East Tournament, and will host the University of New England next Saturday in a quarterfinal matchup. The Cadets who wrapped up the number one seed last weekend, will play host to eight-seeded University of Southern Maine.
Norwich junior forward Travis Janke led the Cadets with two goals, while senior forward Colin Mulvey picked up his nation-leading ninth game-winning goal to help Norwich avoid back-to-back negative results for the first time all season.
Freshman Max Reavis (Omaha, Neb.) had one of his best games of the season, creating chances all over the ice and finishing with a goal and an assist. Florentino added a power-play goal, while Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) picked up his team-leading 26th and 27th assists on the year.
In net, Zach Andrews (Coral Springs, Fla.) played a tremendous game, making a half-dozen highlight reel saves. The freshman netminder made 26 stops on 30 shots, in falling to 16-5-2 on the year.
Sophomore netminder Matic Marinsek moved to 9-1 with 23 saves on 25 Beacons shots.
With both teams already set in their playoff seeding for next weekend's ECAC East Quarterfinals, the Beacons sat several key players due to lingering injuries, giving a pair of freshman a crack at the top ranked Cadets.
The new lineup didn't seem to affect the Beacons at all, as they held the momentum at several junctures throughout the game, despite having to battle back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
Neither squad was able to find back of the net in the first period, despite several great chances for the Cadets. After a Beacons penalty at the 18:26 mark, Norwich had three point-blank chances in front of the net on Andrews, but the freshman goalie was able to turn each one aside.
Norwich took a 1-0 lead 68 seconds into the second period, as they capitalized on some weary legs for the Beacons. UMass Boston successfully killed off the final 36 seconds on a power-play that carried over from the first, but couldn't get the puck out of the zone, leaving the same five players out on the ice for over a minute. Shane Gorman finally capitalized for the Cadets, when he found Chris Duszynski's rebound and lifted a backhand over Andrews' shoulder to make it 1-0 Norwich.
The Beacons retaliated at 4:47 of the period, when they scored the first of their power-play goals on the game. DeGrazia slipped away from a Cadet hit and found Reavis in the slot for a huge slapshot that dinged the underside of the crossbar before falling straight down and into the back of the net.
It wouldn't take long for Norwich's response, as the Cadets grabbed a 2-1 lead on a fluky goal at the 6:10 mark. Defenseman Alec Thieda sent a soft shot towards net from the blue line that deflected off Janke's midsection and by Andrews for Janke's 11th goal of the season.
Just under 20 minutes later, Florentino gave the Beacons the equalizer on the power-play, when Reavis found Florentino all alone at the point, and the senior sent a slapper through traffic that found the netting at 6:09 of the third.
UMass Boston looked like they finally were going to take the lead when Norwich's Gerard Mceleney was called for tripping at 11:11, but the momentum quickly shifted. Norwich's intense forechecking on the penalty-kill led to a two-on-one rush with Mulvey and Tory Allan skating into the Beacons end; Allan fed Mulvey just past the left circle and Mulvey's shot ricocheted off of Andrews shoulder and into the top corner of the net for the first short-handed tally against the Beacons this year.
Janke put the nail in the coffin at 17:21 when he took a feed from senior captain Pier-Olivier Cotnoir and sent a wrister over Andrews head to make it 4-2.
The Cadets outshot UMass Boston 30-25, with both teams scoring two goals on special team opportunities. UMass Boston finished 2-for-8 on the man advantage, while Norwich finished 1-6 and added a short-handed goal.