NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The No. 1-ranked Norwich men's ice hockey team downed 15th-ranked New England College 6-3 in the Cadets 2011-12 regular season home opener on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Norwich (3-0-0 overall, 3-0-0 ECAC East) spread out the offense getting goals from six different players en route to its third straight win to open the season.
Junior forward Tory Allan (Davidson, Sask.) led the offense with a goal and an assist while sophomore forward Travis Janke (Swift Current, Sask.) and sophomore defenseman Francois Gatien (Boucherville, Quebec) chipped in with two assists each as well.
New England College (4-2-0 overall, 3-2 ECAC East) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Niko Uola scored on a shorthanded breakaway off an assist from Aki Uola. Aki took advantage of a Norwich player falling to the ice and picked off a pass by Pier-Olivier Cotnoir. Aki found Niko streaking out the zone and hit him with an outlet pass at the center ice. Niko skated in on Norwich starting goalie Parker Carroll (West Chester, Pa.) all alone and beat him with a quick low wrist shot to Carroll's glove side.
The Cadets answered back though on their second power play opportunity and needed just four seconds to do it when Alec Thieda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) scored his first collegiate goal. Thieda took a pass from Pier-Olivier Cotnoir (Rouyn Noranda, Quebec) at the opposite point after Janke won the faceoff back to Cotnoir. Thieda then ripped a slap shot from the point that deflected off a NEC defender and found its way past the Pilgrims' goalie Shawn Sirman to knot the game at one.
Less than a minute later at the 10:04 mark of the second period, senior forward Igor Martinez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) gave Norwich a 2-1 lead beating Sirman to his left on a breakaway after Martinez picked off a pass in the neutral zone.
Just 2:01 later New England College tied it back up when Samuli Turenen scored off an assist from Johan Qvarfordt.
Allan capped off a wild first period by jamming home a rebound in front of the net to give Norwich a 3-2 lead off assists from Corey Hale (Montreal, Quebec) and Gatien.
Although Norwich outshot New England College 14-3 over the first 20 minutes, the Cadets only carried a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
Just before the midway point of the second period, Norwich was forced to making a goaltender switch after Carroll had an equipment malfunction. In stepped sophomore goaltender Chris Czarnota (Wakefield, Mass.) for his first collegiate minutes after he never played during his freshman season.
Sophomore forward Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) scored the eventual game-winner and make it 4-2 when he scored by putting home a rebound off Janke's initial shot and a second assist from Allan.
Junior forward Kyle Thomas (Waltham, Mass.) stretched the lead to 5-2 just 1:05 into the third period when he beat Sirman before he could recover after making a save on senior defenseman Pasha Kozhokin's (Kharkiv, Ukraine) initial shot from the point.
Junior forward Colin Mulvey (Worcester, Mass.) made it 6-2 at the 4:59 mark by beating Sirman top shelf on a breakaway after the NEC goalie tried to stack the pads. Gatien and Czarnota picked up the assists on the goal.
The Pilgrims finally solved Czarnota at the 6:32 mark of the third period when Jonathon Boxill banked a shot off Czarnota's pad from behind the net to cut the deficit to 6-3.
However, that's as close as NEC would get as Czarnota picked up the first win of his career, as well as the rare goaltender assist to cap off a memorable first game in the Maroon & Gold. He made 10 saves on 11 shots while Carroll made four saves on six shots. Sirman picked up the loss for New England College after turning aside 29 shots.
Norwich finished 1-for-4 on the power play while NEC was 1-for-7.
The Cadets wrap-up their two-game home stand tomorrow at 4 p.m. when they take on St. Anselm at Kreitzberg Arena in another ECAC East contest.
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Norwich's Alec Thieda (10) rips a slap shot from the point to tie Friday's game against New England College at one. The Cadets went on to win 6-3. (Jennifer Langille/Norwich University