Northfield, VT–Williams College (4-3-2, 3-1-2 NESCAC) falls to the No. 5 Norwich Cadets (12-1-1), 4-3, in the championship game of the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament. After going four down in the fourth period, the Ephs battled back with three goals in the third period.
Norwich got the early one-up lead on the Ephs at 1:20 into the game. The goal was scored off a 2v2 play when Norwich senior William Pelletier rebounded junior Kevin Salvucci's shot. The Ephs hustled to try to score one of their own but missed the net on a couple of prime opportunities to remain one down.
Towards the end of the period, the Cadets when on a scoring streak, scoring three goals in the span of just over two minutes, two within 24 seconds. The first came at 15:24 when freshman Ian Williams backhanded a shot right over Williams' netminder, sophomore Michael Pinos' glove. He was assisted by junior Connor Evangelista. The Cadets scored against at 17:11 when senior Paul Russell stuffed one in after a shot hit the crossbar and deflected in his direction. He was assisted by freshman Todd Jackson and senior Tyler Piacentini. 24 seconds later, at 17:35, Norwich senior William Pelletier scored his second of the game to give the Cadets a 4-0 lead heading into the second period. He was assisted by junior Connor Evangelista.
Upon moving to a four-goal deficit, Williams coach, Bill Kangas, decided to pull the Eph netminder sophomore Michael Pinios, who boasts a 0.882 save record this year. Junior Stephen Morrissey was put in to replace PInios.
"We needed to be more assertive in our play," head coach Bill Kangas said. "Norwich is a good team and we gave them too much space in the first period so we focused on closing the gap."
The Ephs came back from the break determined to close the four-goal gap the Cadets created in the first twenty minutes of play but had to settle for a no-blood period with both teams failing to score. Williams created solid opportunities for scoring but couldn't quite finish the play to convert the opportunity into the much needed goal. Junior Eph netminder Stephen Morrissey successfully defended the Williams net, saving all twelve Norwich shots.
The breakthrough goal for the Ephs came when a fight in front of the Norwich net gave the Ephs a 3v4 advantage. The fight sent Williams senior Sam Gray and Norwich junior Payton Baldillez (who sat in for senior goaltender Ty Reichenbach) to the box at 7:53, which gave the Ephs a 3v4 advantage after Norwich freshman Christian Thompson was called for interference at 7:53.
Senior defenseman Frankie Mork took the puck around the net and took a shot that was saved by the Norwich goalie but the puck bounced out and senior Tyler Young was there to take the puck off his stake and shoot it into the net at 9:12.
At 13:16, Norwich freshman T.J. Dockery was called for charging sophomore Roberto Cellini and was sent to the box. The one-man advantage was able to give Williams another golden opportunity for a goal. Sophomore Roberto Cellini scored at 14:23 after he redirected a shot from senior George Hunkele from the blue line, making it a two-goal game. This was Cellini's sixth goal of the season.
Another Norwich penalty at 15:04 (senior Tyler Piacentini for interference) set up another big play for the Ephs. Junior C.J. Shugart tipped in a cross from senior Sam Gray to reduce the deficit to only one goal. The squad couldn't quite get the fourth goal to tie the game even with Morrissey out of the net for the last minute of play so the Cadets managed to come out on top despite riding on their first period goal streak.
"This was a good weekend for us; we got to play some really good teams and see how we matchup," Kangas said. "Even though we would've liked to win both, we can take a lot away from this weekend and I think our last three-goal surge at the end of today's game proves to us that we have it in us, we just have to keep working to that potential."
The Ephs will return to action January 6 in a conference matchup at Trinity at 7:30 p.m. The next afternoon the Ephs will play at Wesleyan in a 3:00 p.m. contest.