Men’s Hockey: Norwich upsets defending NEHC champion UMass Boston 6-2

Men’s Hockey: Norwich upsets defending NEHC champion UMass Boston 6-2

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team defeated defending New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) champion UMass Boston 6-2 on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena in league action. 

Norwich (8-1-1, 6-1-0 NEHC) got a pair of goals from junior Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) and senior Paul Russell (Andover, Mass.), while junior Alec Brandrup (Rochester, Minn.) notched two assists to lead the Cadets to their fourth straight victory. 

Junior Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta) continued his recent hot streak in net, stopping 32 shots to pick up his fifth victory of the season. He even picked up the rare goalie assist with a primary tally on Salvucci's second goal of the night. 

Despite an entertaining back and forth first period, neither side was able to muster a goal in the opening 20 minutes with UMass Boston outshooting Norwich 11-8. 

Salvucci needed just 13 seconds to finally break the tie in the second period as he backhanded the puck into a wide-open net after Ian Williams' (Milestone, Saskatchewan) pass deflected off a UMass Boston defender's stick. Taeron Lewis (Winnipeg, Manitoba) also picked up the second assist on the goal. 

Russell made it 2-0 at the 5:18 mark of the second period with no-angle shot from the left wing along the goal line that bounced off the goalie and into the back of the net. Brandrup picked up his first assist of the game with the outlet pass to hit Russell on the left wing.

Jackson scored his second of the season by picking off a UMass Boston pass from behind the net and roofing a shot into the top right corner to increase the lead to 3-0. 

Salvucci notched his second of the game and took over the team lead with seven goals on the year at the 15:31 mark of the second period on the power play. Salvucci took a pass from Ostepchuk in the neutral zone, wheeled up the right wing and then cut across the top of the slot before firing a wrist shot back to the right post that beat UMass Boston goalie Jordan Bustard to make it 4-0. 

UMass Boston (5-3-1, 2-3-0 NEHC) came storming back at the start of the third period with two goals in the first eight minutes with Albee Daley and Ryan Cusin lighting the lamp to briefly cut the Cadets' lead to 4-2. 

Daley scored on a tip off a blast from the point by Tyler Bishop and then Cusin rifled a wrist shot past Ostepchuk's glove into the top right corner of the net. Cusin then nearly made it 4-3 moments later but his one-timer off a face-off win clanked off the post.

Norwich got some breathing room again with Anthony Flaherty (South Boston, Mass.) scoring on a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle on a 2-on-1. Flaherty whistled a wrister high to the right corner of the net to make it 5-2 Cadets with his fourth goal of the season. 

Russell capped the scoring with an empty-net tally off an assist from Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass.) for his second of the night at the 18:52 mark of the third period.   

Prior to the game, Norwich honored head coach Mike McShane with a jersey saying "700" on the back as a token for recently becoming the seventh coach in NCAA hockey history to reach the 700-career-win milestone. 

Norwich will return to action on Saturday when it hosts Babson at 4 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena in NEHC action.