NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's ice hockey team scored four unanswered goals in the third period to pull away for a 4-0 win over Southern Maine in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Southern Maine freshman goalie Kyle Shapiro stood on his head for 47 minutes, stymying the Norwich offense with over 30 saves before the Cadets finally cracked the Husky goalie at the 7:03 mark of the third period.
Senior defenseman Alec Thieda (Rochester Hills, Mich.) banked a shot off a USM defender's skate that caromed into the back of the net before Shapiro could close his pads to give Norwich (22-3-1) the only lead it would need. The goal was Thieda's third of the season with Dean Niezgoda (Brewster, Mass.) and William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) picking up the assists on the goal.
Just over three minutes later freshman forward Justin Charbonneau (Bromont, Quebec) continued his hot streak down the stretch, scoring his fifth goal of the season on a rebound to make it 2-0 Cadets. Charbonneau slapped home a rebound off an initial shot from the point by Alec Brandrup (Rochester, Minn.) for his fourth goal in his last five games. Senior forward Gerard McEleney (Canton, Mass.) picked up the second assist after feeding Brandrup the puck from the high slot.
Sophomore forward Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass.) scored his ninth goal of the season on a 5-on-3 power play to push the Norwich lead to 3-0 at the 13:06 mark of the third.
Piacentini redirected the puck into the top right corner of the net and over the glove of Shapiro off assists on a textbook breakout by Bryce Currier (Essex Junction, Vt.) and Austin Surowiec (Louisville, Ky.).
Currier skated a few strides over his own goal line and the fired a tape to tape pass catching Surowiec streaking up the left side of the ice in stride. Surowiec skated in and turned toward the net before dropping the puck back to Piacentini for the goal.
Sophomore defenseman Cody Smith (Hudson, Mass.) capped the scoring with his second goal of the season coming on a blast from the top of the faceoff circle off assists from Nevin Lawler (Fitchburg, Mass.) and Nick Pichette (Massena, N.Y.).
Shapiro finished with 38 saves to take the hard-luck loss despite his best efforts to keep USM in the game for nearly the duration. Sophomore goalie Ty Reichenbach (Billings, Mont.) made 12 saves to earn his third shutout of the season.
Norwich will host No. 4 seed Castleton in the ECAC East Tournament semifinals next Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena. The Spartans advanced to the second round with a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win over the Univ. of New England.
UMass Boston will meet Babson in the other semifinal. The winners of the two semifinal games will meet at the highest remaining seed on Saturday, Mar. 7 in the ECAC East Championship.