Women’s Hockey: Norwich scores late to top Middlebury 3-2

Courtesy Norwich Sports Information

NORTHFIELD – Freshman forward Bryn Labbe (Calgary, Alberta) scored with 2:59 left in the third period to lift the Norwich University women’s ice hockey team to a big 3-2 non-conference victory over No. 6 Middlebury College on Tuesday night at Kreitzberg Arena.

Norwich (14-6-0, 11-1-0 NEHC) won round one of the “Battle of the Shuchuk sisters” as Maki and the Cadets snapped Katarina and the Panthers’ six-game winning streak coming into the night.

Labbe scored the biggest goal of her young career snapping a wrist shot inside the left post to beat Middlebury goalie Julia Neuburger and break a 2-2 deadlock in the ninth all-time meeting between the intrastate rivals. Norwich improved to 6-2-1 against the Middlebury and scored its second straight win in the rivalry after the Cadets defeated the Panthers 3-2 in last year’s NCAA Quarterfinals.

Freshman Carly Menges (Novelty, Ohio) and Nicole Goebel (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) notched assists on Labbe’s game-winning goal after Goebel kept a puck in the zone along the boards and fed a pass over to Menges at the left point. Menges passed the puck down to Labbe who slipped the wrist shot past Neuburger from the middle of the slot.

Norwich took a 1-0 lead just 56 seconds into the game with sophomore Erin Joyce (Manchester, N.H.) notching her fourth goal of the season off assists from Rachel Bellio (Johnstown, Colo.) and Sarah Schwenzfeier (Hingham, Mass.).

Bellio stole the puck from a Middlebury skater and then fed a pass down to Schwenzfeier in the corner. Schwenzfeier flipped the puck on her back hand to Joyce who was standing in the slot and then Joyce one-timed the puck into the bottom left corner of the net while falling to the ice to put the Cadets up 1-0.

Middlebury (11-4-3) dominated the remainder of the period, but it could not beat junior goalie Celeste Robert (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) and the NU defense.

Norwich took a 2-0 lead at the 5:30 mark of the second period with Labbe winning a faceoff forward and then junior forward Adelle Murphy (Roseau, Minn.) sliding the puck past Neuberger just four seconds into a power play from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

The Panthers wouldn’t go down quietly low as they got on the board just before the midway point of the second period with Janka Hlinka scoring on the power play off assists from Julia Wardwell and Anna Van Kula.

Hlinka tipped a shot in the middle of the slot that deflected off a NU defender and into the back of the net after Wardwell took the initial shot from the blue line.

Norwich carried the 2-1 lead into the locker room for the second intermission, despite getting outshot in the period 8-4 and 13-6 total through 40 minutes.

Middlebury tied the game up at the 13:48 mark of the third period with Katherine Jackson banking a shot off Robert’s pad from behind the net on a wraparound to make it 2-2. Elizabeth Wulf and Grace Jennings picked up assists on the goal.

Robert finished with 13 saves for Norwich to improve to 8-4-0 on the season. Neuburger made seven saves for Middlebury to drop to 6-3-2 on the season.

Tuesday marked the first time that Maki and Katarina Shuchuk played against each other after they had played on many of the same teams growing up. They were both on the ice for the opening faceoff of the game.

Norwich has now won five straight as it closes out the regular season with five more conference games.

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