All season long Babson and its senior goaltender Zeke Testa have been the kryptonite for the Norwich University men's ice hockey team.
The trend continued on Saturday night in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Men's East Tournament Championship game as Testa made 39 saves, including 20 in the third period alone, to stymie the high-octane Norwich offense and lead the Beavers to a 2-1 victory.
Testa was named the Most Valuable Player and ended Norwich's run of three straight ECAC East Tournament titles. The title was Babson's fifth overall and first since 2009.
Babson (17-6-5) also extended its unbeaten streak over Norwich (23-3-1) to four straight games, including a 2-0-1 mark against the Cadets this season.
Despite outshooting Babson 40-13, Norwich junior forward Travis Janke's (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) goal 3:02 into the game was the only time the Cadets could get anything by Testa. Janke beat the Babson goalie with a quick one-timer through the five-hole from the low slot off a feed from Colin Mulvey (Worcester, Mass.) from behind the net after he picked off a pass from a Babson defenseman.
However, Babson countered with two goals 1:30 apart just past the midway point of the first period to take the lead for good. Trevor Hines knotted the game at one at the 10:23 mark by tipping a shot past NU sophomore goalie Matic Marinsek (Ljubljana, Slovenia) after Matt Leer intercepted a clearing attempt along the side boards. Leer trapped the puck along the boards and then fired a pass to Hines who got a stick on the puck and lifted it over Marinsek.
Moments later Babson struck again when Jared Wiedemann fired a slap shot from the point that found its way through Marinsek's five-hole to give the Beavers a 2-1 lead that they would cling to for the rest of the game.
NU head coach Mike McShane pulled Marinsek for junior Parker Carroll (West Chester, Pa.) after Babson's second goal and Carroll went on to stop all eight shots he faced in relief.
After a back and forth second period, Norwich did everything right but score in the final stanza. The Cadets completely dominated the possession and outshot Babson 20-2, but they weren't able to light the lamp again.
Testa stood on his head all period long making highlight reel saves with glove, leg, blocker and he even had the help of a goalie's best friend with Norwich clanging two shots off the post. Janke was robbed at the last second on the backhand with a quick right pad save with 16:40 left and the frustration only mounted for the sold out Kreitzberg Arena faithful from there.
Chris Duszynski and Gerard McEleney each had quality chances turned aside before the halfway mark of the period by Testa. Duszynski tried beating Testa five-hole with a quick shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle and then McEleney was stuffed by the blocker. With just over seven minutes left, Thomas got a step on the Babson defense with a quick burst of speed up the left wing. He fired a shot wrist shot that Testa blocked and then the NU senior barreled into the Babson net to force a stop in play.
With 4:57 left in the game Blake Forkey was robbed by a glove save by Testa on his backhand from the middle of the slot. Less than a minute later Dean Niezgoda slid a puck off the right post from the left side of the net that clanged off the iron and never fully crossed the line before being swept away by a Babson defenseman.
Norwich continued to amplify the pressure and went on a power play with a little over three minutes left when Wiedemann was whistled for a boarding penalty. Just seven seconds into the power play, Pier-Olivier Cotnoir let go of a howitzer from the point that Testa snatched up with his glove to rob the NU captain.
Mulvey wristed a shot off Testa's chest with a little over two minutes left and then Janke rifled a shot off the post moments later. As soon as Wiedemann's penalty expired, McShane pulled Carroll for an extra attacker in frantic search for the equalizer.
The Cadets had one last shot at a late-second miracle, but senior forward Tory Allan was denied once again by Testa in the final 10 seconds. Allan corralled a pass in the middle of the slot and with a defender draped on his back he turned to his right and tried to sneak the puck past Testa to the left side of the cage. However, the Babson goalie quickly slid over side to side and just stuck his pad out at the last second to kick the shot away and the Cadets' last quality chance to tie it.
Janke and Forkey were each named to the All-Tournament team for Norwich, while Babson's Ryan Smith, Wiedemann and junior defenseman Ryan Heavey rounded out the squad.
Norwich will now wait to see if it is selected as one of the three at-large teams that make the 11-team NCAA Tournament field. Coming into the weekend, the Cadets were the No. 1-ranked team in the NCAA's East Region rankings which are the same rankings that are used to select the tournament field.
Babson will be in the NCAA Tournament after the Beavers claimed the ECAC East's automatic bid into the field by winning the postseason tournament title.
The NCAA Tournament selections will be announced on Sunday night at 10 p.m.
Courtesy: Norwich Athletic Department
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