By Mike Zhe
Once again, it’s Norwich.
After a postseason filled with upsets and upstarts, it will once again be the regional gold standard representing New England at the Division 3 Frozen Four.
The Cadets neatly avenged a loss to Babson in the ECAC East championship game, blanking the Beavers, 4-0, in an NCAA quarterfinal game Saturday at Kreitzberg Arena, punching their ticket to the national semifinals for the fourth straight year.
Right wing Kyle Thomas (Waltham, Mass.) continued his postseason surge, scoring twice, including one of two empty-net goals after Babson pulled goalie Zeke Testa (Wellesley, Mass.) with four minutes to go.
Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) and Blake Forkey also scored for the Cadets, who got 14 saves from Chris Czarnota (Wakefield, Mass.), who recorded his third shutout of the season.
As was the case in last weekend’s 4-1 loss in the ECAC East final, the Cadets held a big edge in shots (39-14). But this time they cashed in, with Gorman opening the scoring midway through the fist period off a feed from Chris Duszynski.
Thomas made it 2-0 in the final period and the Cadets were off, giving the big crowd of 2,129 plenty to cheer about. The win was the first for them in four games against Babson this season.
Norwich (24-3-1) will take on another perennial power, SUNYAC champion Oswego, in a national semifinal on Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y. Oswego went to Adrian (Mich.) and took away a 3-2 win in overtime.
Thomas and the four other seniors on this Norwich team were part of the program’s last national championship team, in 2009-10.
The Cadets almost had some New England company in Lake Placid, but Bowdoin couldn’t make its 2-0 lead hold up in a 4-2 quarterfinal loss at Utica. Goals by Harry Matheson and Ollie Koo (Greenwich, Conn.) had it up 2-0 after once period, but it wouldn’t score again.
Utica will face off against Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the other national semifinal.
Bowdoin pumped 56 shots on goal in its 5-2 first-round win over UMass-Dartmouth, finally taking the lead for good in the final minute of the second period on a power-play goal by Kyle Lockwood.
"I can't say enough about the game that (senior goalie) Ryan Williams played in goal for us,” said UMD coach John Rolli. “We knew coming in that we were probably going to be outshot and we knew that it could be by a wide margin, but we were in this game well into the third period."
Babson easily handled ECAC Northeast champ Wentworth in its first-round game, 6-1. As a team, the Beavers finished with a 2.20 goals-against average – the lowest in program history – and Testa set a single-season school record with a 1.85 GAA.
New England Division 3 Power Rankings
1. Norwich (24-3-1, 16-1-1 ECAC East)
Four straight Frozen Fours for Norwich, which is bidding to win its first national championship since 2009-10.
2. Bowdoin (23-4-2, 13-3-2 NESCAC)
Five different players scored for Polar Bears in 5-2 win over UMass-Dartmouth in the NCAA first round.
3. Babson (18-7-5, 10-5-3 ECAC East)
Troy Starrett (Bellingham, Mass.) and Jay Haseley each scored twice in 6-1 win over Wentworth in the NCAA first round.
4. Williams (17-7-3, 12-4-2 NESCAC)
5. UMass-Boston (19-6-2, 11-5-2 ECAC East)
6. Trinity (15-7-3, 11-4-3 NESCAC)
7. UMass-Dartmouth (12-8-7, 9-3-6 MASCAC)
Williams (51 saves) held the fort as long as he could for the MASCAC champs in NCAA loss to Bowdoin.
8. Wentworth (16-9-3, 10-2-2 ECAC
Loss at Babson snapped eight-game unbeaten streak for the Leopards.