Thomas scores twice to spark Cadets as Nowich blanks Babson in quarterfinals
After going winless in three attempts against Babson this season, including a 2-1 loss in the ECAC East championship game one week ago, Norwich (24-3-1) enacted its revenge with a resounding 4-0 shutout win against the Beavers (18-7-5) on Saturday night.
Senior forward Kyle Thomas scored twice and junior forward Chris Duszynski notched two assists to lead the Norwich offense. Junior goalie Chris Czarnota also made 14 saves to pick up his third shutout of the season.
Norwich junior forward Shane Gorman scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal a little before the midway point of the first period when he tucked a backhand shot inside the left post to beat Babson goalie Zeke Testa off a pass from Duszynski. The goal was Gorman's eighth of the season and fourth in the last five games.
The Cadets added another goal with just 21 seconds left in the first period when Thomas sped down the left wing with Travis Janke on a 2-on-1 and fired a wrist shot through Testa's five-hole for his 11th goal of the season.
Babson had a 3-on-2 of its own just moments before Thomas' goal but a NU defenseman blocked a Beaver shot attempt and the puck bounced right to Janke's stick to set up an odd-man rush going the other way. Janke head-manned the puck to the speedy Thomas and let him do the rest from there.
Determined to break its four-game winless skid against Babson, the Cadets never lifted their foot off the gas in the second period, outshooting the Beavers 17-3.
However, similar to last weekend's ECAC East Final, the Cadets weren't able to get anything past Testa in the middle stanza. The Babson goalie made perhaps the save of the year at the 9:55 mark of the second when he robbed Janke with a diving glove save off a 2-on-1 rush with Tory Allan Janke and Allan worked a give and go in the Babson defensive zone with Allan sending the puck over to Janke while right on top of the crease only to have Testa come diving across to block Janke's redirection just before it crossed the line.
Babson head coach Jamie Rice pulled Testa for an extra skater with just under four minutes to go in a desperation effort to try and find a goal. However, the Cadets stood tall and tacked on two more empty-net goals from Blake Forkey and Thomas to cap the scoring.
Czarnota improved to 13-1-1 on the season with the victory and 20-2-2 overall in his career at Norwich. The shutout was Norwich's seventh of the season Testa finished with 34 saves and concluded his senior season with a 10-2-4 record.
The Cadets will now make their fourth consecutive NCAA Division III semifinals appearance and 11th in the last 17 seasons. Norwich will face SUNYAC champion Oswego State who beat Adrian 3-2 in overtime to punch their ticket to the national semifinals.
Norwich and Oswego State have both advanced to the Frozen Four in each of the last four seasons, but the two perennial powerhouses have yet to meet.