NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Sophomore forward Felix Brassard (St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec) scored with 2:34 left in regulation to lift the Norwich University men's ice hockey team to a dramatic 3-2 win over No. 2-ranked Adrian College in the 21st annual PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut opening round on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Brassard snapped a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Adrian College goalie Kevin Entmaa high blocker side for his team-leading third goal of the season and what proved to be the game-winning goal in an instant classic thriller.
Freshman Brett Ouderkirk (Monkland, Ontario) had a breakout performance, scoring his first two collegiate goals and then tallying an assist on Brassard's game-winner for a three-point night to lead the Cadets' offense.
Junior Tom Aubrun (Chamonix, France) turned in one of the best performances of his Norwich career, turning aside 26 shots to tame the high-powered Adrian offense that came in averaging nearly 4.5 goals a game.
Aubrun helped Norwich (3-2-1, 2-2-0 NEHC) withstand a relentless Adrian onslaught in the third period as the Bulldogs dominated the possession and shots on goal with a 14-3 advantage.
After a scoreless first period, Adrian (7-2-0, 5-1-0 NCHA) opened the scoring at the 7:06 mark of the second period with a beautiful redirection goal by Bryan Yim off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing set-up by Cory Dunn and Matt McNair. Dunn fed the puck down to McNair who sent a crossing pass from the left boards and Yim tipped the puck top shelf cutting down from the slot to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
However, the lead was short lived as Norwich answered just 27 seconds later with Ouderkirk scoring his first collegiate goal on a 2-on-1 off an assist from Carter Cowlthorp (Boissevain, Manitoba). Cowlthorp fed a pass over to his left to find a streaking Ouderkirk and he one-timed the puck past Entmaa before he was able to get across the crease. Brassard also picked up the second assist on the goal after the playing the puck to Cowlthorp in the neutral zone.
Ouderkirk gave Norwich its first lead of the game at the 15:58 mark with a slap shot from the point that found its way through traffic and beat Entmaa low along the ice. Freshman Gabriel Chicoine (St. Dominique, Quebec) picked up the primary assist after feeding the puck over to Ouderkirk from the right point.
Norwich desperately held the lead for nearly the first 15 minutes of the third period, but Adrian finally broke through with a power play goal by Yim off assists from Matt McNair and Dino Balsamo. Balsamo played the puck down to McNair in the right corner and then McNair sent a crossing pass through the bottom of the slot that found Yim on the weak side. Yim waited out Aubrun who came hard across the crease and got caught too far out before firing a shot in the right side of the net for his ninth goal of the year.
Brassard scored the game-winner though on the power play with assists from Taeron Lewis (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Ouderkirk to cap the scoring.
Adrian outshot Norwich 28-19 for the game and finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Cadets were 2-for-4.
In the early game, Middlebury defeated Plattsburgh State 3-0 to setup a rematch of the 2012 PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut Championship game, which Norwich won 5-4 at Kreitzberg Arena. NU will play Middlebury at 7 p.m. following the consolation game between Adrian and Plattsburgh at 4 p.m.
Saturday's championship will mark the 155th all-time meeting between the two intrastate rivals. Norwich won both of last year's meetings and is 11-1-3 in the last 15 meetings with the Panthers. Middlebury still holds the all-time lead at 80-65-9 that dates back to 1926.