NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team claimed its record 10th PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut tournament title with a 5-1 win over intrastate rival Middlebury College on Saturday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Freshman forward Brett Ouderkirk (Monkland, Ontario) continued his breakout offensive weekend with a goal and two assists to cap his six-point weekend en route to earning Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.
Norwich (4-2-1, 2-2-0 NEHC) continued its recent dominance of the Middlebury/Norwich rivalry, improving to 12-1-3 in the last 16 meetings with the Panthers. Norwich has now closed the gap in the all-time series to 80-66-9 in the 155 meetings dating back to 1926.
Middlebury (2-2-0, 1-1-0 NESCAC) struck first just 45 seconds into the contest with Kamil Tkaczuk scoring on a redirection, beating NU freshman goalie Adam Mercer (Belchertown, Mass.) five-hole off a pretty backhand feed from the corner by Emack Bentley.
Norwich went on to scored five unanswered goals though, starting with none other than Ouderkirk at the 6:54 mark of the first period with a power play goal off assists from Taeron Lewis (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Gabriel Chicoine (St. Dominique, Quebec).
The Cadets took the lead at the 9:36 mark of the first period for good with Lewis scoring his second of the season off an assist from Scott Swanson (Batavia, Ill.) for the eventual game-winning goal. Lewis scored on the rebound, wrapping the puck behind Middlebury goalie Brian Ketchabaw's pad after he made an initial save on Swanson's shot.
Norwich extended the lead to 3-1 at the 9:20 mark of the second period with Carter Cowlthorp (Boissevain, Manitoba) scoring on a rebound after Ouderkirk's shot was saved. Felix Brassard (St. Jean sur-Richelieu, Quebec) picked up the second assist.
The Cadets add two more power play goals in the third period to pull away from the Panthers for good with Chicoine scoring his first collegiate goal and Noah Williams (Cortland, N.Y.) adding his second of the season. Jordan Hall (Anchorage, Alaska) and Connor Swystun (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) picked up the assists on Williams' goal, while Brassard and Ouderkirk had the assists on Chicoine's tally.
Chicoine was named the Most Outstanding Rookie, while Lewis and Brassard were also named to the All-Tournament team for Norwich. Middlebury's Michael Fahie, Adrian's Bryan Yim and Plattsburgh State's Rich McCartney rounded out the selections.
Mercer stopped 21 shots to pick up his first collegiate win in his first collegiate start. Ketchabaw had 23 saves in the loss for the Panthers to fall to 2-1.
Norwich's 10th PrimeLink ShootOut victory is the most all-time in the 21-year history of the tournament. Plattsburgh has won six, while Middlebury has four and was seeking its first title since 2008. Norwich also beat Middlebury in the 2012 PrimeLink final, which was also hosted at Kreitzberg Arena.
Norwich will look to keep the momentum rolling next weekend when it hosts Johnson & Wales and Suffolk for the first time as NEHC league members at 7 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.