Courtesy Norwich Sports Information
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men’s ice hockey team clinched its 16th straight Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East title with a 5-3 victory over UMass-Boston on Saturday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Norwich freshman forward Anthony Flaherty scored the biggest goal of his young career at the 4:55 mark on the power play to give the Cadets (17-5-3, 13-3-2 ECAC East) the lead for good.
Flaherty beat UMass-Boston goalie Zach Andrews five-hole off a pass from Travis Janke from behind the net for his third goal of the year. Senior forward Chris Duszynski picked up the second assist on the goal.
Janke sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left in the game to give Norwich an insurance tally. The goal was the 50th of his career and 147th overall point, tying him for 14th on the all-time Norwich scoring list.
UMass-Boston (16-5-4, 9-5-4 ECAC East) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals by Mike Kuhn and Stephen Buco. Kuhn scored just 2:09 into the game off assists from Buco and Tyler Bishop to give the Beacons a 1-0 lead. Buco scored on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at the 16:20 mark off assists from Frankie DeAugustine and Travis Daniel.
Norwich responded with two goals 28 seconds apart from freshmen forwards Nick Pichette and William Pelletier .
Norwich took its first lead of the game with 11 seconds left in the second period when sophomore forward Dean Niezgoda beat Andrews five-hole off an assist from Alec Thieda .
UMass-Boston responded just 19 seconds into the third period when Buco blasted a slap shot into the left corner of the net off a faceoff win from Kuhn.
The Cadets’ victory, coupled with St. Michael’s pulling off a dramatic late goal to tie Babson, caused a tie between NU and Babson with 28 points apiece at the top of the ECAC East standings. Norwich held the tie-breaker though by virtue of its two head-to-head wins over Babson.
Norwich senior goalie Chris Czarnota made 14 saves to pick up the victory and improve to 7-2-1 on the year. Andrews made 26 saves for UMass-Boston and was saddled with the loss to drop to 12-3-2 on the year.
Norwich earned the top seed for the ECAC East Tournament and will now face No. 8-seeded Skidmore in the quarterfinal round. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Kreitzberg Arena.