NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team claimed its 12th New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament title on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over New England College in front of a packed house at Kreitzberg Arena.
No. 1 nationally-ranked Norwich (23-1-3) got a goal each Alec Brandrup (Rochester, Minn.), Nick Pichette (Massena, N.Y.), Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) and Todd Jackson (Holly Springs, N.C.) as they extended their unbeaten streak to 21 straight games and punched their ticket into the 12-team NCAA Tournament field.
Brandrup gave NU a 1-0 lead at the 11:36 mark of the first period with his fifth goal of the season off assists from Pelletier and Ian Williams (Milestone, Saskatchewan). Pelletier found Brandrup with a cross-ice pass from the left faceoff circle and then Brandrup shot the puck high through traffic that NEC goalie Brett Kilar never saw.
NEC (19-8-0) tied things back up at 1-1 at the 14:03 mark of the first period with Mike Whitehair shoveling a loose puck home off a scrum in front of the crease.
Pichette scored his 11th of the season at the 16:44 mark of the second period to give Norwich the lead for good when he beat Kilar up high again and popped the water bottle to make it 2-1 Norwich. Payton Baldillez (Arlington, Texas) and TJ Dockery (Lockport, N.Y.) picked up the assists on the goal.
Salvucci added the backbreaker for the Cadets at the 14:30 mark of the third period when he wristed home a loose puck off a rebound after Kilar made an initial save on Pelletier. Salvucci swooped in from the right and knocked it into the net for his 18th goal of the season and his fourth of the NEHC Tournament.
Ty Reichenbach (Billings, Mont.) made 27 saves to pick up his ninth win of the season and improve to 9-1-3. He was also named to the All-Tournament team along with Pelletier and Brandrup from Norwich. Salvucci was named the MVP of the tournament. NEC's Kilar and Whitehair rounded out the All-Tournament Team selections.
Norwich will now await word in Monday's NCAA selection show to find out when it will play next. The Cadets were the No. 1 seed in the latest NCAA East rankings, which are used to determine seeding for the tournament. There is a strong chance that the Cadets will receive one of the four byes in the 12-team field and then host a NCAA Quarterfinal game on March 18 at Kreitzberg Arena.