SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Despite outshooting Skidmore 40-16, the No.-1 ranked Norwich men's ice hockey team dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Thoroughbreds on Friday night at the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink in ECAC East action.
Skidmore senior goalie Colin Bessey made 38 saves to keep the high-octane Norwich offense at bay and lead the Thoroughbreds to their first ever victory over Norwich. Coming into Friday's game, the Cadets were 15-0-1 against Skidmore, including 3-0 win earlier this season on Dec. 3 at Kreitzberg Arena.
After a scoreless first period, Tyler Doremus put Skidmore up 1-0 at the 9:41 mark of the second period when he slammed a rebound past Norwich goalie Chris Czarnota (Wakefield, Mass.) after he made an initial save with his blocker on Chris Powers' shot.
Despite a flurry of Norwich chances, the Thoroughbreds maintained the 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
Norwich (18-2-1, 13-2-0 ECAC East) finally got on the board at 11:01 mark when Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) registered his eighth goal of the season to knot the game up at one.
Gorman collected a shot by Pasha Kozhokin (Kharkiv, Ukraine) in the right face-off circle that had bounced hard off the back dashers and he slid the puck past Bessey before the Skidmore goalie could get over to the right post.
However, the tie was short lived as Skidmore (9-11-2, 8-7-0 ECAC East) regained the lead just 1:16 later when Julian Malakorn tipped a pass from Tony Giacin top shelf and over Czarnota on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush.
The Thoroughbreds took advantage of a fortunate bounce off the skate of the linesman in the neutral zone to set up the odd-man rush opportunity.
Norwich got a power play opportunity with 1:48 left in the game when Skidmore was whistled for too many men on the ice. However, instead the Thoroughbreds' Jack Walsh flung the puck into an empty net at the 19:18 mark after NU head coach Mike McShane pulled Czarnota for an extra skater to give Skidmore a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore forward Chris Paquet (Victoriaville, Quebec) scored with 9.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 3-2 but it was too little too late at Skidmore escaped with the upset victory.
Czarnota made 13 saves for Norwich and was saddled with his first collegiate loss. He is now 7-1-0 on the season. Bessey, the reigning ECAC East First Team All-Conference goalie, improved to 8-9-0 on the season.
Norwich returns to action on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. when the Cadets take on rival Castleton State at Spartan Arena in the second installment this season of "The Battle of Vermont."
Castleton defeated St. Michael's 3-0 on Friday night and moved to within two points of Norwich for first place in the ECAC East standings. With a win tomorrow though, Norwich can still clinch its 14th straight ECAC East regular season crown.
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