December 4, 2009

Norwich broadens horizons

It will go down as an impressive tie, but you can bet the Norwich hockey team feels like a winner this week.

The Cadets (3-0-1) turned in the most impressive – as well as the most exciting – effort of any team in New England over the past seven days, winning the PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout title against two opponents from outside New England last weekend. The final victory, which will be noted in each team’s record as a tie, was a 2-1 victory over Plattsburgh State that took two shootouts to finish.

The final goal in the shootout came from Chad Anderson and sent the Cadets streaming onto the ice.

“I haven’t been that excited in a long, long time,” goaltender Ryan Klingensmith told the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus after the win. “When it finally ended, you’re so excited, it was crazy.”

For a team that’s used to winning, and advanced to the Division 3 Frozen Four two years ago, Klingensmith’s words are saying something.

Norwich, meanwhile, said something to the rest of the country as well. While the tie with Plattsburgh State (7-1-1) was impressive, the thorough beating of Wisconsin-Strout one day earlier was more so.

Klingensmith, who was named tournament MVP, stopped five shots in the shootout. In a 9-1 win over Wisconsin-Strout (4-4-2), he had to make just nine saves the entire game.

Perhaps, more importantly, the Cadets found plenty of ways to put the puck in the net, likely the largest concern heading into the season.

"Most of the forwards we have this year are freshman, so they're going to have to score," Norwich head coach Mike McShane told the Times-Argus after the win over Wisconsin-Stout. "If we're going to have success this year they're going to have to contribute right away."

It’s only four games worth of results, but so far, the class looks capable.

Blake Forkey, a freshman, is the team’s leading scorer with four goals and an assist, while fellow freshmen Scott Schroeder and Kyle Thomas each have three goals. Schroeder had the lone regulation goal for Norwich against Plattsburgh and Forkey scored in the ninth round of the shootout to force it into a 10th. Four other freshmen forwards have at least one point for Norwich.

Over the past two years, New England teams have often struggled against opponents from outside the region. This week, Norwich was just one of many to find success outside New England.

NEHJ Player of the Week

Ryan Klingensmith, sr., Norwich

If the senior goaltender was good enough to win MVP at the week’s most competitive tournament, he’s good enough for us. Klingensmith made 40 saves and allowed just one goal in two Norwich wins.

Looking Ahead

Amherst at Norwich, Friday

Norwich celebrates 100 years of hockey with home games against defending NESCAC champion Amherst this weekend. The goaltender battle between Klingensmith and whomever the Lord Jeffs tab ought to be a good one.

Around the ECAC East

UMass-Boston is off to a 3-1 start, its best since 1996-97. That includes a second consecutive Police Athletic League/Stovepipe Championship. The Beacons won three games this week, scoring 22 goals. Sophomore Bryan Albert had three goals and three assists, winning the conference’s player of the week award, while sophomore Chris Wyman scored a hat trick in a 7-2 win over Stonehill. Junior forward Vinnie Jacona currently sits third in the country with 1.75 assists per game and had four assists against Stonehill.

Around the ECAC Northeast

Three weeks into the season and it’s pretty clear who the class of the ECAC Northeast is going to be this season. Wentworth and Curry have a combined record of 12-0-2. The rest of the league is 11-28-5. That includes defending champion Nichols, which is the only other team with a winning record so far at 4-3-1. Wentworth has already had two players earn player of the week honors and one break the 100-point mark for his career, senior Jeff Olitch, the ninth in school history. Curry, meanwhile, is unbeaten earned its best win of the year in a 3-2 win over Manhattanville. Curry College has locked down its place near the top by grabbing goaltender of the week honors during each of the first three weeks of the year. This week it was Steven Jakiel, who had 45 saves against Manhattanville. Sean Sylvester had two goals in a three-goal first period and the Colonels hung on from there. … Nichols’ Will Munson earned the conference’s player of the week award thanks to an 11-point effort over three games. The stretch included a school-record tying six assists in an 8-6 win over Stonehill. Zach Coon had a hat trick in the first period of that one and also had a game-winning goal against Skidmore, part of a 12-point week for him.

Around the MASCAC

Salem State was another one of the New England teams with big wins this week, coming up with a 3-0 win over previously-unbeaten St. Norbert. That followed another good outing in a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Schloastica. Senior goaltender James LaCour made 30 saves in the win. It was the second time St. Norbert’s had been shutout since 2006 and was likely Salem State’s biggest win since a victory over Middlebury that same year. … UMass-Dartmouth also had a nice effort in a 5-3 win over Babson. Jon Dryjowicz-Burek (Ludlow, Mass.) made 45 to lead the Corsairs.

Around the NESCAC

Generally I think co-players of the week awards by a conference are a cop-out. But if there was ever a time that two players deserved it, this was it. Middlebury forward Martin Drolet and Williams goaltender Ryan Purdy shared the award thanks to super efforts. Against tough competition from outside New England, Drolet was involved in six of eight Middlebury goals in a split with Plattsburgh State (second in the country in winning percentage last year) and Wisconsin-Stout at the PrimeLink Shootout. Middlebury fell 3-1 to Plattsburgh and beat Wisconsin-Stout 7-3. Purdy meanwhile made 98 saves in two games to keep the Ephs unbeaten, including 54 in a 4-4 tie with Babson. He made 44 in a 5-1 win over Manhattanville (eighth last year in win percentage). The efforts came on back-to-back nights. … Amherst beat a pair of NESCAC teams over the weekend but got little for it. The Lord Jeffs beat Wesleyan and Connecticut College in the 2009 Spurrier Tournament. … Colby junior Billy Crinnion showed he has some clutch potential, scoring the game-winner with 59 seconds left in a 3-2 win over Southern Maine. …. Tufts goaltender Scott Barchard (Reading, Mass.) stopped 78 of 82 shots and led the Jumbos to a title at the Rutland Herald Invitational. … Wesleyan goaltender Matt Hadge (Canton, Mass.) made his debut with a 3-2 win over Trinity at the Spurrier Tournament.

Chris Carlson can be reached at