NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team advanced to the seventh annual Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament championship game with a 3-1 victory over Nazareth College on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Junior forward Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) scored twice, while senior William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) notched two assists to lead the Cadets to the victory in their first-ever meeting with the Golden Flyers, who established their program in 2012-13.
No. 5-nationally ranked Norwich (11-1-1, 8-1-0 NEHC) won its seventh straight game with the victory and will now face long-time NESCAC rival Williams College at 5 p.m. on Saturday for the title.
Norwich had to rally from a 1-0 deficit after the first intermission to score three unanswered goals in the win. Nazareth (4-7-2, 4-2-0 ECAC West) struck first at the 17:18 mark of the first period with a pretty 3-on-2 odd-man rush goal by Dominik Gabaj.
Oliver Jansen skated in from the right wing and fed a pass to the middle for Brian Miller. Miller collected the puck and set up Gabaj by waiting out a NU defenseman that dropped to the ice to block a pass. He slid the puck over to Gabaj crashing at the left side of the net, who banged it home past NU junior goalie Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta) to put the Golden Flyers up 1-0.
Norwich caught a break at the 7:18 mark of the second period with Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass.) intercepting a clearing attempt by the Nazareth goalie Brandon Lane along the boards. Lane came out to play the puck and tried to fire it up the left wall towards the NU bench. However, his clearing attempt was blocked by Piacentini right in front of the NU bench and he flipped it into a wide open net to knot the game up at 1-1.
Norwich took its first lead of the game at the 8:34 mark of the third period with Salvucci scoring his first of the night on a power play off a pretty backhanded, no-look feed from behind the net by Pelletier. Pelletier skated behind the Nazareth net and then quickly dropped the puck back to Salvucci, catching Lane and the Nazareth defense off guard. Salvucci fired the puck into the bottom left corner of the net, leaving Lane no chance for his eighth goal of the year.
Pelletier and Salvucci hooked up again for a de-ja-vu play to the second goal at the 17:40 mark with literally the same exact drop pass behind the net that resulted in Salvucci's ninth of the season.
Ostepchuk made 21 saves to improve to 7-0-0 on the season for Norwich, while Lane stopped 32 to fall to 4-6-1.
Williams topped unanimously No. 1-ranked Oswego State 4-3 in an overtime thriller in the first game of the day. The Ephs got a goal from Tyler Young 1:34 into overtime on a rebound off an initial shot by Frankie Mork to hand the Lakers their second straight loss after starting the season 10-0-0.
Oswego State's Matt Galati tied up the game with 21 seconds left in regulation with a one-time blast from the top of the right faceoff circle on a 6-on-3 power play advantage.
Oswego State will face Nazareth at 2 p.m. in the consolation game, while NU meets Williams at 5 p.m. in the championship. NU and Williams haven't played since Feb. 5, 2011, with the Cadets taking a 3-0 win at Kreitzberg Arena in the last year of the old ECAC East/NESCAC Interlock.