BOSTON – Despite outshooting UMass-Boston 40-16, the Norwich men's ice hockey team fell 2-1 to the Beacons and suffered its first loss of the 2011-12 season on Saturday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center in Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East action.
Norwich (11-1-1, 7-1-0 ECAC East) fell behind 2-0 in the first period on goals by UMass-Boston's Mike DeGrazia and Travis Daniel. The Beacons' goals came just 2:48 apart as DeGrazia took advantage of an odd-man rush and Daniel scored on the power play off a fortuitous bounce.
DeGrazia scored at the 8:06 mark of the period when he followed up his own rebound and roofed a shot on the backhand over Norwich goaltender Parker Carroll's (West Chester, Pa.) shoulder.
Daniel made it a two-goal game when he scored off an initial shot from DeGrazia at the point that bounced off the end boards behind the goal and landed right on top of the crease where Daniel was waiting and slammed the puck into the net before Carroll could find it.
Norwich picked up its intensity in the second period, outshooting UMass-Boston 18-2, but the Cadets still couldn't solve Beacons goaltender Kevin Bendel even with the help of a 5-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds.
Sophomore forward Chris Duszynski (Okotoks, Alberta) had the best scoring chance when he found himself all alone on the left side of the cage, but his shot was blocked by a sprawling pad save by Bendel to keep the Cadets off the board.
Just over five minutes into the third period the Cadets threatened again but Bendel robbed junior Pier-Olivier Cotnoir (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) with a sprawling glove save. Less than two minutes later junior forward Tory Allan (Davidson, Sask.) was awarded a penalty shot after he was taken down by a UMass-Boston defender on a breakaway.
Allan tried to beat Bendel over the blocker on the penalty shot attempt but he couldn't lift the puck high enough and the Beacons' goalie got enough of it to turn him away and maintain the two-goal lead.
With Carroll pulled and an extra attacker on the ice, Cotnoir finally scored with 55 seconds left to prevent Norwich from being shutout for the first time since Feb. 28, 2009. Ironically that game was a 1-0 overtime loss to UMass-Boston in the ECAC East Quarterfinals.
The Cadets frantically tried to find the equalizer in the final minute but they were never able to mount any serious scoring chances.
Carroll made 15 saves for Norwich and was saddled with just the second loss of his career to fall to 8-1-1 on the year and 22-2-3 in his career. Bendel turned aside 39 shots for the Beacons and evened his record to 4-4-0 on the year.
The Beacons improved to 7-6-2 on the year and 3-5-0 in ECAC East play. Norwich had a chance to gain sole possession of first place as Castleton was off this weekend. However, Saturday's defeat leaves both teams tied atop the standings with 14 points each.
NU will look to get back on track next Friday night when the Cadets face in-state foe St. Michael's College at 7 p.m. at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vt. Both clubs will then head down I-89 the following afternoon to wrap-up the home and home series at 4 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena.
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