Photo Courtesy Jennifer Langille Photography
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The No. 1-seeded Norwich men's hockey team advanced to its third straight ECAC East Tournament Championship with 3-2 win over No. 6 Southern Maine in semifinal action Friday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena.
Norwich (22-2-2) got goals from Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.), Pier-Olivier Cotnoir (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) and Colin Mulvey (Worcester, Mass.) as the Cadets scored three straight times after falling behind 1-0 to take command of the game.
Southern Maine (10-11-6) struck first blood at the 12:23 mark of the first period when Troy Thibodeau redirected John Grandinetti's initial shot from the blue line past Norwich goalie Parker Carroll (West Chester, Pa.). Stephen Gallo also picked up an assist on the play after crossing the puck over to Grandinetti from the opposite point.
However the Cadets answered just 1:34 later when Gorman beat Southern Maine goalie Braely Torris short side from the left wing to knot the score at one.
Cotnoir gave Norwich its first lead of the game at the 17:43 mark of the period when he banked a shot off a Southern Maine defender from behind the goal to make it 2-1.
Mulvey gave NU a two-goal lead 6:37 into the second period when he beat Torris between his arm and his body from the right wing off a lead out pass from Nevin Lawler (Fitchburg, Mass.).
Southern Maine's Ryan Seward finally broke the string of Norwich goals at the 15:41 mark of the second period when he capitalized on Norwich failing to get the puck deep on a line change.
Seward collected the puck at his own blue line after a teammate blocked a dump in attempt. He skated up the ice and then used a Norwich defender as a screen to beat Carroll glove side and cut the deficit down to one.
Southern Maine had a golden opportunity to tie the game just a few minutes later when Angelo Vrachnas picked off an errant Norwich pass and skated in alone on Carroll. However, Vrachnas' backhand attempt rolled off his stick and into the corner before he was able to get a shot on Carroll.
Carroll made 17 saves for Norwich to improve to 14-1-1 on the season. Torris had 31 saves for Southern Maine to finish the year at 10-9-6.
The Cadets will face rival Castleton for the third installment of the season of "The Battle of Vermont" on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the ECAC East Tournament Championship. NU won both regular season meetings by scores of 3-2 and 7-5.
Norwich will be looking to claim its third straight ECAC East Tournament crown and 10th overall. Castleton will be making its first appearance in the ECAC East Championship game in its ninth season as a varsity program.
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