NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The No. 8/7-ranked Norwich University men's ice hockey team scored three third-period goals to pull away for a 3-0 victory over No. 15/15 New England College on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
The game lived up to the pre-game billing as New England College entered the game on a 16-game unbeaten streak and Norwich had a 12-game unbeaten streak. The Cadets avenged their last loss which came at the hands of NEC by a 2-1 score on Dec. 8 and snapped the Pilgrims' unbeaten streak, which was the second longest in the nation.
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, freshman Maxime Borduas (St. Cesaire, Quebec) scored his sixth goal of the season with a snipe off the cross bar and into the top left corner of the net to give the Cadets the only lead they would need at the 13:36 mark of the third period.
Freshman Brett Ouderkirk (Monkland, Ontario) set up the scoring chance with a hard fore check and won a battle in the corner before sliding the puck out to Borduas from the half boards. Borduas took the pass and skated towards the top of the slot before rifling a wrist shot into the top corner for the game-winning goal.
Junior Jordan Hall (Anchorage, Alaska) scored an unassisted goal just 1:45 later for his eighth goal of the season to make it 2-0 Norwich. Hall corralled an errant puck in the neutral zone, skated into the zone around a couple of NEC defenders and then let go a low wrist shot that evaded NEC goalie Anthony Pupplo.
Norwich (17-4-3, 12-4-1 NEHC) capped the scoring with an empty-net goal by Jack Griffin (Duxbury, Mass.) off assists from Scott Swanson (Wheaton, Ill.) and Coby Downs (Montclair, Calif.). Downs laid out along the boards to slide the puck out to Swanson, who immediately sent a pass down to Griffin, who stuffed it into a wide open net on the doorstep of the crease to put the game away for good.
Junior goalie Tom Aubrun (Chamonix, France) stopped all 18 shots he faced to pick up his fifth shutout of the season and improve to 14-3-3 on the season.
Pupplo made 24 saves for NEC to fall to 11-4-5.
With the win, Norwich clinched a first-round home game for the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) playoffs. The Cadets also clinched a top 3 seed. Babson beat UMass Boston 3-0 to move within two points of the conference leaders just like Norwich did as they remained tied for second place.
Norwich closes out the regular season on Saturday at 4 p.m. when it hosts Southern Maine at Kreitzberg Arena. Prior to the game, the Cadets will honor their two seniors on this year's team.