Men’s Hockey: Cadets Rally in Third, Beat Castleton 6-5

Courtesy Castleton Sports Information

RUTLAND –– The nationally 13th-ranked Norwich men’s hockey team used a pair of third-period goals within 14 seconds to erase a one-goal deficit en route to a 6-5 win and the weekend sweep over Castleton on Saturday.

Jack Griffin notched the tying tally on a backhand shot on a rush after pushing the puck around the Spartan defender at 11:17 of the third period. Then, the Cadets took a 5-4 lead shortly after the ensuing faceoff when Ryan Boucher found a rebound and lifted the puck over the pad of a sprawling Wyatt Pickrell.

The Spartan offensive output was accounted for by five different goal scorers and assists from five different players including a pair from Troy Taylor.

For Norwich (13-4-3, 8-4-1 NEHC), Felix Brassard led the way with a goal and two assists while Sam DiBitetto pitched in three helpers. Boucher scored the final two goals for the Cadets including the game-winner.

For the second consecutive night, Norwich took an early one-goal lead when Brassard put the Cadets up at the 2:47 mark. Castleton tied it at one on its first shot of the evening when Andrew Barber fired a shot from the point over Tom Aubrun’s shoulder through traffic.

The Spartans earned a one-goal lead at the 9:17 mark when Dom Kuziak grabbed a turnover in the offensive zone before beating Aubrun. The goal on Castleton’s second shot of the game and led to a goalie change for Norwich. Then, on the power play at the 12:22 mark, Alex Maunula caught an angular point pass from Dan Fitzgerald before ripping a wrist shot over new goalie Adam Mercer’s shoulder to give Castleton a 3-1 lead.

The Cadets pulled to within one with 14 seconds remaining in the busy first period on the power play when a series of passes resulted in a goal by Gabriel Chicoine on a shot through traffic.

Norwich struck early again in the second period to tie the game when Scott Swanson tapped in a pass from Sam DiBitetto on a backhand feed from behind the cage. Castleton went into the second intermission with a one-goal cushion after Asa Palker swatted down a clearance attempt before passes from Matt Bloomer and Taylor found goal-scorer Nick Gravina with an open shot from the high slot.

Boucher’s second goal came after a turnover at the blue line when the sophomore wired a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the net.

Caleb Fizer got the Spartans back into the game 17 seconds later after blocking a shot and depositing one of his own on the rush through the legs of Adam Mercer. Castleton applied pressure but was unable to net the equalizer as the Norwich unbeaten streak grew to nine consecutive games.

Castleton (3-14-4, 1-11-2 NEHC) will hit the road for the final away games of the regular season at Johnson & Wales on Friday, Feb. 1 and at Suffolk on Saturday, Feb. 2. Both games will start at 7 p.m.

Norwich (13-4-3, 9-4-1 NEHC) will make the same trip, meeting Suffolk on Friday night and Johnson & Wales on Saturday, but before that they travel to meet Plattsburgh State in Plattsburgh on Tuesday night.