(photos courtesy Adam Hatt)
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The fourth time proved to be the charm for the Norwich University men's ice hockey team against Babson.
After going winless in three attempts against Babson this season, including a 2-1 loss in the ECAC East championship game one week ago, Norwich (24-3-1) enacted its revenge with a resounding 4-0 shutout win over the Beavers (18-7-5) on Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals at Kreitzberg Arena.
Senior forward Kyle Thomas (Waltham, Mass.) scored twice and junior forward Chris Duszynski (Okotoks, Alberta) notched two assists to lead the Norwich offense. Junior goalie Chris Czarnota (Wakefield, Mass.) also made 14 saves to pick up his third shutout of the season.
Norwich junior forward Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal a little before the midway point of the first period when he tucked a backhand shot inside the left post to beat Babson goalie Zeke Testa off a pass from Duszynski. The goal was Gorman's eighth of the season and fourth over the last five games.
The Cadets added another goal with just 21 seconds left in the first period when Thomas sped down the left wing with Travis Janke (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) on a 2-on-1 and fired a wrist shot through Testa's five-hole for his 11th goal of the season.
Babson had a 3-on-2 of its own just moments before Thomas' goal but a NU defenseman blocked a Beaver shot attempt and the puck bounced right to Janke's stick to set up an odd-man rush going the other way. Janke head-manned the puck to the speedy Thomas and let him do the rest from there.
Determined to break its four-game winless skid against Babson, the Cadets never lifted their foot off the gas in the second period, outshooting the Beavers 17-3.
However, similar to last weekend's ECAC East Final, the Cadets weren't able to get anything past Testa in the middle stanza. The Babson goalie made perhaps the save of the year at the 9:55 mark of the second when he robbed Janke with a diving glove save off a 2-on-1 rush with Tory Allan (Davidson, Saskatchewan). Janke and Allan worked a give and go in the Babson defensive zone with Allan sending the puck over to Janke while right on top of the crease only to have Testa come diving across to block Janke's redirection just before it crossed the line.
Babson head coach Jamie Rice pulled Testa for an extra skater with just under four minutes to go in a desperation effort to try and find a goal. However, the Cadets stood tall and tacked on two more empty-net goals from Blake Forkey (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Thomas to cap the scoring.
Czarnota improved to 13-1-1 on the season with the victory and 20-2-2 overall in his career at Norwich. The shutout was Norwich's seventh of the season Testa finished with 34 saves and concluded his senior season with a 10-2-4 record.
The Cadets will now make their fourth straight NCAA Division III Frozen Four appearance and 11th in the last 17 seasons. Norwich will face SUNYAC champion Oswego State who beat Adrian 3-2 in overtime to punch their ticket to the national semifinals.
Norwich and Oswego State have both advanced to the Frozen Four in each of the last four seasons, but the two perennial powerhouses have yet to meet. That highly anticipated showdown will finally take place next Friday at 4 p.m. in the first of two semifinals at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. Utica will face UW-Eau Claire in the other semifinal at 7:30 p.m. with both teams making their inaugural Frozen Four appearances.
The five seniors on this year's Norwich squad won the 2010 National Championship as freshmen in Lake Placid for the program third title. The last two seasons, NU has been knocked out by St. Norbert in the semifinals. However, the two-time defending national champion Green Knights were eliminated with a 3-1 loss to Eau-Claire in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
More information will be available throughout the week on www.norwichathletics.com for next weekend's 2013 NCAA Division III Frozen Four. Visit http://www.whiteface.com/events/ncaa-division-iii-mens-ice-hockey to purchase tickets!