BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Gerrard McEleney's (Canton, Mass.) scored the go-ahead goal at 19:50 of the second period, and No.1 Norwich University scored four times in the third period to pull away for a 6-1 victory over No. 11 Babson College in Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East men's ice hockey action on Friday night at the Babson Skating Center.
With its seventh consecutive victory, Norwich (21-2-1, 17-0-0 ECAC East) remains perfect in conference play, and clinches its 17th consecutive regular-season league title. Babson, which was unbeaten in its last three games coming into the night, drops to 16-5-3 overall and 11-4-2 in conference play.
Senior Nevin Lawler (Fitchburg, Mass.), sophomores William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec),Brian Rowland (Waltham, Mass.) and Nick Pichette (Massena, N.Y.) and first-year Payton Baldiillez (Arlington, Texas) all scored once for the Cadets. Five different players also picked up an assist in the win.
The teams combined for seven penalties in a physical and fast-paced first period. Norwich killed off a pair of minors in the opening 6:09 of the contest, and the Green and White was called for hooking at the 7:37 mark, but was able to keep the game scoreless thanks to three saves from Beavers' junior goaltender Jamie Murray (Scituate, Mass.) and a pair of blocked shots.
The best chances for either team came at full strength as Norwich sophomore netminder Ty Reichenbach (Billings, Mont.) denied Babson senior Mike Driscoll (Milton, Mass.) just over 11 minutes into the contest, and Murray made a pair of terrific saves late in the period to keep the game deadlocked. He robbed sophomore William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) with a glove save on a breakaway at 11:51, and then moved to the top of the crease to deny McEleney's blast from the slot just with just over three minutes left in the stanza.
Seligman hit the pipe with the Beavers on the power play just 1:20 into the second period, and then set up Searles' sixth tally of the year at the 7:52 mark. Searles carried the puck into the zone before leaving it for Seligman who drove towards the net and slid a pass back to Searles, who beat Reichenbach at the right post for a 1-0 lead.
The Cadets answered with a pair of goals inside the final four minutes of the period to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Rowland ripped a shot from just inside the blue line on the power play over Murray's right shoulder and under the crossbar to tie the game at the 16:10 mark. McEleney then put Norwich ahead when his shot from the right circle slid through a crowd in front of the net with just 10.4 seconds left in the stanza.
Murray kept the Beavers close with seven saves in the opening 7:12 of the third period before the Cadets struck for two goals just nine seconds apart to break the game open. Pelletier tipped home a shot by senior Corey Hale (Montreal, Quebec) from the blue line at 8:37 to make it 3-1, and Pichette tipped in a loose puck in front of the net at 8:46 to give Norwich a 4-1 lead.
Baldillez picked up an empty net tally at 17:52 to push the Cadets' advantage to four, and Lawler scored on the rebound of a shot by sophomore Anthony Flaherty (South Boston, Mass.) at 18:34 to cap the scoring.
Reichenbach (11-0-1) made 27 saves for Norwich to remain unbeaten on the season, while Murray (16-5-3) stopped 29 shots for the Green and White.
The teams combined to go just 1-for-7 on the power play, with the Beavers finishing 0-for 3.
Both teams will close the regular season on Saturday at 3 p.m. as Babson hosts Saint Michael's, while Norwich visits nationally-ranked UMass-Boston.
GAME NOTES: Babson is now 22-36-6 all-time against Norwich…the loss to the Cadets snapped the Beavers' 23-game regular-season home unbeaten streak, as well as their 20-game unbeaten streak against league opponents at the Babson Skating Center…the loss was just the second this season for Babson when scoring first.