MANCHESTER, N.H. – Blake Forkey (Boca Raton, Fla.) hadn't scored all season coming into Friday night's Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East game against St. Anselm.
However, he made up for it in a big way as the junior forward notched a hat trick to lead the nationally-No. 1-ranked Norwich men's hockey team to a 6-3 win over the Hawks at Sullivan Arena.
Forkey combined with line mates Chris Duszynski (Okotoks, Alberta) and Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) to account for five of the six Norwich goals as the Cadets picked up the season sweep over St. Anselm after downing the Hawks 5-2 earlier this season on Nov. 19.
Norwich (17-1-1, 12-1-0 ECAC East) opened the scoring just 1:22 into the game when Duszynski notched his eighth goal of the year off an assist from Gorman.
Gorman head-manned the puck from the Norwich blue line to a streaking Duszynski, who chased down the pass with a defender matching him stride for stride. Duszynski was able to corral the puck just inside the St. Anselm zone. He fought off the St. Anselm defender draped on his back and got a shot off that was initially kicked aside by the Hawks' goalie Nick Dries. However, Duszynski found the rebound and tucked the puck behind Dries on the backhand to give Norwich a 1-0 lead.
St. Anselm (7-8-3, 3-8-2 ECAC East) answered back 2:05 later when Liam McKillop finished off a 2-on-1 odd-man rush off a pass from Tim King. King sent a backhanded saucer pass over a Norwich defender, who went down to block the passing lane. The pass landed right on tape of McKillop's stick, who promptly tapped the puck into a wide open left side of the cage and past Norwich goalie Parker Carroll (West Chester, Pa.)
Just past the midway point of the period, Norwich took control of the game with two goals from Forkey and Gerard McEleney (Canton, Mass.) in a span of seven seconds to go ahead 3-1.
Forkey gave NU the lead for good when he redirected Owen Carpino's (Nashua, N.H.) blast from the blue line past Dries to make it 2-1 Cadets at the 12:33 mark of the period.
Off the ensuing faceoff the Cadets got the puck deep and McEleney took advantage with his second goal of the season off assists from Igor Martinez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Pasha Kozhokin (Kharkiv, Ukraine) at the 12:40 mark of the period.
Forkey notched his second goal of the game, which was the only goal in the second period, at the 8:36 mark with assists from Gorman and Duszynski.
Forkey knocked the puck into a wide open net off a scramble in front of the net with Dries was laying on the ice after making an initial save on Gorman. Francois Gatien (Boucherville, Quebec) also picked up his first of two assists on the goal.
The two teams each traded a pair of power play goals in the third period to cap the scoring.
Gorman increased the Norwich lead to 5-1 at the 8:48 into the period when he pounced on a rebound and buried the puck into a wide open net for a power play goal. Duszynski and Gatien recorded the assists on the goal.
Greg Merrill scored his first of two power play goals in the period at the 14:04 mark when he beat Carroll from the blue line off assists from Tim King and Johnny Daniels.
Forkey completed his hat trick at the 17:35 mark of the period with a snipe from the slot that eluded Dries to give Norwich a four-goal lead again. Pier-Olivier Cotnoir (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) and Gorman picked up assists on the goal.
Merrill scored again with 1:03 left in the game, but it was too little too late for Saint Anselm as Norwich improved to 37-18 all-time against the Hawks and picked up head coach Mike McShane's 602nd career victory.
Carroll stopped 16 shots for NU to improve to 11-1-1 on the year and record his 25th career victory in the Maroon & Gold. He is now 25-2-3 in his career. Dries turned aside 20 shots for St. Anselm to drop to 4-6-2 on the year.
Both teams were whistled for seven penalties for 14 minutes and each team was 2-for-6 on the power play.
With Castleton's 5-4 loss to UMass-Boston on Friday, the Cadets now hold a three-point lead atop the league standings as they continue their quest for an unprecedented 14th straight ECAC East regular season title.
Norwich continues its four-game road trip on Saturday afternoon when the Cadets travel to New England College to take on the Pilgrims at 4 p.m. in another ECAC East matchup.
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