(Release courtesy of USM Athletic Media Relations Department)
GORHAM, Maine - The #11/#12 Norwich University Cadets held off a frantic comeback bid by the University of Southern Maine Huskies in the final five minutes of regulation to post a 2-1 victory in a New England Hockey Conference game Friday evening at the USM Ice Arena.
The win was the fourth straight for the Cadets, and their eighth in the last nine games. The Cadets head into a Saturday game at New England College with a 16-5-1 overall mark and a 12-2-1 mark in league play. The Cadets swept the teams' three-game season series, including a pair of one-goal wins at the USM Ice Arena.
Conversely, the Huskies dropped their sixth straight game to slide to 3-15-4 overall and 3-9-3 in NEHC play. The Huskies will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) hosting Castleton University.
The Cadets took a 1-0 lead into the final period, and improved upon that mark at 4:12 when senior Connor Evangelista's (Wakefield, Mass.) shot from the right-wing board handcuffed USM rookie goaltender Stephen D'Urso (Andover, Mass.).
With the minutes ticking down, USM picked up its pace in the offensive zone after successfully killing off a five-minute major penalty, including a stint of 1:56 down two skaters, forcing a Norwich minor penalty at 16:15. D'Urso headed for the bench giving USM two extra skaters and the Huskies finally broke through when junior Tyler Mathieu (Stillwater Lake, N.S) knocked in a rebound with 1:55 to play to cut the deficit in half.
The Huskies continued to press looking for an equalizer, but to no avail.
Norwich grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period when sophomore Jack Griffin (Duxbury, Mass.) intercepted an errant USM pass at the end boards and centered it out in front to sophomore Jordan Hall (Anchorage, Alaska) who snapped it by D'Urso. That would be the only goal in the first 40 minutes as Norwich had the better of the play and outshot USM 21-7.
D'Urso, making just his second appearance of the season, and first collegiate start, stopped 30 shots in a strong performance. At the opposite end, Norwich senior Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta) made 16 saves.
The win was Ostepchuk's 50th of his collegiate career. He has the second most wins by a goalie under Mike McShane at Norwich. He is four wins away from tying Randy Hevey's program-record 54 wins.