NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team dropped a 4-1 decision to Hobart College on Saturday night in the Statesmen's first trip to Kreitzberg Arena as a member of the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC).
Norwich (12-5-1, 8-2-1 NEHC) got a second period goal from sophomore Jordan Hall (Anchorage, Alaska), but it wasn't enough as Hobart (10-5-4, 7-3-2 NEHC) pulled away late with two goals in the final 1:02 of the game to seal the victory.
Hobart took an early 1-0 lead at the 2:31 mark of the first period with Andrew Longo using his speed and capitalizing on a NU defensive miscue to come in all alone on a breakaway and score his fourth goal of the season.
Longo burst out of the zone after the puck skipped over the stick of a NU defender. He skated in from the right and fired a quick wrist shot over the glove of Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta) and under the crossbar to make it 1-0 Statesmen.
Hall scored his sixth of the season at the 4:46 mark when he tipped an initial shot by Alec Brandrup (Rochester, Minn.) from the point through the legs of Hobart goalie Alexander Connal. Ryan Boucher (Fitchburg, Mass.) also picked up an assist after winning the faceoff clean back to Brandrup.
Hobart regained momentum in the second half of the period though after Norwich was whistled for three straight penalties, including 1:56 of a 5-on-3. The Cadets were able to kill off the two-man disadvantage, but Hobart finally broke through at the 16:38 mark of the third period with Jonas Toupal scoring on a rebound in front of the net off an assist from Lawson McDougall on a give-and-go.
Hobart added two more insurance tallies in the third period with Ben Grenier scoring on another breakaway after the NU defense was caught pressing trying to tie the game. Grenier took a tape-to-tape pass from Julien Denicourt and skated up the middle of the ice all alone with speed. He came in on Ostepchuk and beat the NU goalie with a quick wrist shot five-hole at the 18:58 mark of the third period.
Hobart added an empty net goal by Travis Schneider with 40 seconds left on an assist from Andrew Silard.
Ostepchuk made 32 saves on the night to fall to 8-5-1 on the season. Connal stopped 22 shots to pick up the win and improve to 6-3-1.
The top of the NEHC standings continue to be a log jam. Norwich held onto first place with 19 points, but Babson sits just two points behind with 17. UMass Boston and Hobart are tied for third with 16 points, while New England College had a big four-point weekend to crawl back into the picture with 13 points.
The Cadets will now face their stiffest road test of the season when they travel to Babson and UMass Boston on Friday and Saturday for 7 p.m. and 4 p.m. puck drops respectively.