Men’s Hockey: Endicott claims Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament title in shootout

Courtesy Norwich Sports Information

NORTHFIELD — For the third straight time, the Norwich University men’s ice hockey team locked up with Endicott College for another instant classic on Saturday in the ninth annual Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament title game at Kreitzberg Arena.

After skating to a 3-3 draw through regulation and a five-minute overtime, No. 13-ranked Endicott prevailed 1-0 in the shootout to decide the championship title with the Gulls’ #33 Tommy Besinger scoring the game-winner in the shootout.

Besinger was named the 2019 NSB Holiday Tournament MVP after scoring a goal in Endicott’s 4-3 win over Buffalo State on Friday and then tallying an assist in Saturday’s championship on top of scoring the decider in the shootout.

Ironically, all three meetings between Norwich (7-4-2, 4-4-0 NEHC) and Endicott (9-3-2, 5-3-0 CCC) in men’s hockey have ended in a 3-3 tie. The two teams skated to a 3-3 draw in each team’s season opener on Oct. 27. They also tied 3-3 to start the 2016-17 season at Kreitzberg Arena.

After a scoreless first period, Norwich finally broke the ice with sophomore Carter Cowlthorp (Boissevain, Manitoba) tipping home a shot from Jordan Hall (Anchorage, Alaska) from the point on the power play for his second goal of the year to give the Cadets a 1-0 lead at the 8:09 mark of the second period with Felix Brassard (St. Jean-sur-Richilieu, Quebec) notching the second assist.

Just 2:40 later, sophomore Kale Kane (Kahnawake, Quebec) scored an unassisted goal with a pretty move in the neutral zone to toe drag around an Endicott defender and cause him to stumble. Kane then skated in one on one with another Endicott defender and used him as a screen before ripping a rip shot under the cross bar to pop the water bottle and make it 2-0 Norwich.

Endicott answered at the 14:08 mark of the second period with Carter Horwitz firing a wrist shot just over the shoulder of NU junior goalie Tom Aubrun and inside the right post for his sixth goal of the season. James Winkler and Besinger picked up assists on the goal.

Endicott tied the game at 2-2 at the 3:08 mark of the third period with Jack Kilty scoring off a set play on a faceoff off assists from Ricky Carballo and Jake Simons. Simons won the faceoff back to Carballo who was standing right behind him at the top of the faceoff circle. Carballo immediately slid the puck down to Kilty who was crashing the net on the left side to tap the puck behind Aubrun for the goal.

Just 13 seconds later though Norwich regained the lead with Taeron Lewis (Winnipeg, Manitoba) blasting a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle off the inside of the left post off an assist from Scott Swanson (Wheaton, Ill.) to make it 3-2 Cadets.

However, the lead was short lived as Endicott tied the game at the 4:11 mark of the third period just 50 seconds later with Daniel Kucerovy finding the back of the net off assists from Ross Olsson and Josh Bowes.

In the shootout, Besinger was the only player to solve the two goaltenders with the goal in the third round of the shootout. Brassard, Brett Ouderkirk (Monkland, Ontario), and Coby Downs (Montclair, Calif.) were all denied by Conor O’Brien. Aubrun made one save vs. Olsson and then Kucerovy missed high for the Gulls. Besinger skated in and made a pretty cut back move in front of Aubrun after deking to his backhand and then sliding it back to his forehand while coming to a stop in front of Aubrun and tucking it behind the left pad.

Endicott outshot Norwich 29-26. Aubrun made 26 saves for the Cadets, while O’Brien stopped 23 shots as both goaltenders earned spots on the All-Tournament team. Lewis and Cowlthorp also earned all-tournament honors for Norwich, while Endicott’s Horwitz and Buffalo State’s Jon Colley also were named to the team.

Norwich will head back to NEHC play next weekend when it travels to Geneva, N.Y. to take on the defending league tournament champion Hobart Statesmen on Friday at 7 p.m. The Cadets will then face Skidmore on Saturday at 4 p.m.