Tuesday, February 26th
NORTHFIELD, Vt. -- The Norwich men's and women's hockey teams find themselves in familiar positions...set to host New England Hockey Conference championships games this Saturday at Kreitzberg.
It's been the dawn of a new era for the Norwich men, with first year head coach Cam Ellsworth taking over for retired legend Mike McShane. The Cadets got off to a slow start. They were 2-2-1 in their first give games, then after winning the Primklink Shootout, suffered a pair of surprising league losses to Suffolk and NEC in December and entered the winter break 6-4-1 and 4-4 in NEHC play.
But the second half of the season has been a different story. Norwich is unbeaten in 2019...14-0-2...and are riding a twelve game win streak.
Although their overall season has been strong and on par of season's past, facing and overcoming that early season adversity gave this team confidence in each other and they will take that into Saturday night's meeting with Hobart at Kreitzberg to decide the NEHC conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Norwich women have an almost identical record to the men, 20-5-2 overall, but unlike their Kreitzberg neighbors, the Cadet women were almost perfect in conference, going 15-0-1. That lone tie came on the road against the team they will host in the NEHC championship game this Saturday afternoon, the Castleton Spartans.
The struggles for Norwich this season, as much as you can call them struggles, came against the other top out of conference national title contenders. Norwich went 3-5-1 in non-conference play, including just a 1-4 mark versus teams that have, like the Cadets, been consistently ranked in the top ten all season with losses to Plattsburgh, Middlebury and Elmira twice balanced by a lone overtime victory versus Adrian.
Still, that is the high rent district Norwich competes in. The Cadets are the reigning national champs, have reached the NCAA Frozen Four in seven of the last nine years, and claimed the program's first national title back in 2011. That success leads to high expectations, both interally and externally, but the Cadets say it's that history of success that also pushes them to be the best they can be year in and year out.