NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team made an impressive statement weekend with a four-point sweep over UMass Boston and Babson after the Cadets downed the Beavers 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena.
No. 10/13-nationally ranked Norwich (9-1-1, 7-1-0 NEHC) got a pair of goals from senior forward Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass.), while senior goalie Ty Reichenbach (Billings, Mont.) stopped all 18 shots he faced to help the Cadets enact revenge on Babson after the Beavers ended NU's season last year in the NEHC semifinals.
Norwich and Babson (7-4-1, 4-2-0 NEHC) locked up in another one of their classic grinder games for much of Saturday afternoon as neither team was able to find the back of the net for over 56 minutes of game action. Finally, Piacentini was able to break through for the eventual game-winning goal at the 3:43 mark of the third period.
Senior Paul Russell (Andover, Mass.) created the play by stripping a puck away from a Babson forward on a breakout attempt in the neutral zone. Russell skated up the left side and crossed the blue line before slipping the puck through a defender over to Piacentini cutting down the center of the ice alone. He took the pass, deked and pulled the puck over to his backhand before roofing the puck top shelf over the shoulder of Babson goalie Matt Pompa for a pretty goal and his fifth of the season.
Piacentini added the insurance tally with exactly two minutes left with an empty net goal from just over the red line that put the final fork in the Beavers' chances. Piacentini took a chip pass off the boards from Todd Jackson (Holly Springs, N.C.) and flipped the puck into the empty net for his sixth goal of the year. Senior defenseman Cody Smith (Hudson, Mass.) also picked up the secondary assist after collecting a wide shot by a Babson defender with his glove by the side of the net and then sending it up the boards to Jackson.
Reichenbach got his first start since Nov. 18 in a loss to Skidmore, but he showed no signs of rust with an impressive performance between the pipes for his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. He improved to 4-1-1 on the year. Pompa dropped to 3-3-0 on the season after making 23 saves for Babson.
Norwich's four-point weekend, couple with Skidmore having a bye week for league games, gives the Cadets a four-point lead in the NEHC standings on the Thoroughbreds but having played two more games.
Norwich closes out the first-half schedule on Friday, Dec. 9 by hosting Saint Michael's at Kreitzberg Arena at 7 p.m. Saint Michael's is coming off an impressive weekend by beating Babson 4-2 and tying UMass Boston 5-5 in overtime.