Men’s Hockey: Cadets Top Middlebury 5-3

Courtesy Norwich Sports Information

NORTHFIELD – The Norwich University men’s ice hockey team scored three power play goals en route to a 5-3 victory over Middlebury College in the 150th all-time meeting between the two long-time intrastate rivals on Tuesday night at Kreitzberg Arena.

Junior William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) and senior Dean Niezgoda (Brewster, Mass.) each had a goal and an assist, while freshman defenseman David Roberston (Boissevain, Manitoba) notched two assists to lead the Norwich offense as the Cadets improved to 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings vs. the Panthers.

After each team tallied a goal in the first period, Norwich (11-5-0, 6-3-0 NEHC) used a three-goal third period to pull ahead 4-2 in a wild, penalty-filled middle stanza.

NU went 3-for-5 on the power play as they improved their man-advantage unit to No. 4 in Division III at 28.8 percent.

Middlebury (4-5-4, 3-1-4 NESCAC) took a 1-0 lead at the 4:05 mark of the first period with Stowe, Vt.’s Zach Haggerty scoring on the power play off assists from Max Greenwald and Kamil Tkaczuk to give the Panthers the early lead.

Norwich answered at the 12:57 mark of the first period with junior defenseman Brian Rowland (Waltham, Mass.) notching his third goal of the season with a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net to tie the game up at 1-1.

The Cadets took the lead for good at the 1:47 mark of the second period with sophomore Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) potting his team-leading 13th goal of the season by knocking a loose puck past Middlebury goalie Stephen Klein.

The Cadets added to their lead at the 11:37 mark of the second period with Pelletier scoring a shorthanded goal on a rebound off an assist from Niezgoda after Klein made an initial save on a breakaway.

Middlebury responded less than a minute later with Evan Neugold scoring his fourth of the season off an assist from Vincent Gisonti with a snipe of a wrist shot over the shoulder of NU goalie Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta).

NU sophomore defenseman Mitch Byrne (Onaping, Ontario) responded less than a minute later to give the Cadets a two-goal lead again with his first career goal. Byrne one-timed a slap shot from the high slot that beat Klein low-glove side off a pass from Pelletier. Robertson also picked up an assist on the goal.

Norwich increased its lead to 5-2 early in the third period at the 4:05 mark when Niezgoda tipped home a beautiful set-up from Robertson and Cody Smith (Hudson, Mass.). Pelletier won a face-off after Middlebury was whistled for a penalty back to Robertson, who went d-to-d with a pass to Smith. Smith ripped a low shot toward the net that Niezgoda deflected into the top right corner of the net leaving Klein no chance.

Middlebury closed the scoring at the 5:55 mark with Jake Charles scoring his fourth goal to cut the deficit back to 5-3. That’s as close as the Panthers would get though as Norwich skated away with a 5-3 win for its second-straight big non-conference win after beating No. 2 Plattsburgh 6-3 last Friday night.

Ostepchuk made 19 saves to earn the victory, while Klein made 20 saves for Middlebury to fall to 3-4-1. Ostepchuk improved to 8-2-0 on the season.

Norwich returns to action on Friday and Saturday when it hosts Southern Maine and the University of New England in a pair of NEHC contests at Kreitzberg Arena. Middlebury returns home to Kenyon Arena and a Friday night matchup with Plattsburgh State.

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