Norwich won its second consecutive and third overall PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout with a 5-2 victory over the Potsdam State Bears Saturday.
With the win, Norwich becomes the fourth team in five years to win the tournament in front of its home fans. Last year, when Norwich won in Potsdam, was the only time in the last five renditions of the tournament that the host did not take the title.
The key moment in the game came late in the second period with Norwich leading, 2-1. It was a period controlled by Potsdam — until the final 13 seconds.
While killing off a penalty, Norwich’s Matt Schmidt went in on a breakaway beating Venturelli, scoring to give the Cadets a 3-1 lead heading into intermission, despite a 16-11 Potsdam advantage in shots on goal during the second period.
Potsdam was unable to regain momentum and Norwich scored twice early in the third period to claim the victory.
Potsdam came into the game without its top defenseman, Dave Weagle, who was injured in the Plattsburgh game the night before. Norwich lost the services of Chris Petracco when he hurt his back in a collision with Mike Smitko in the first period.
After a scoreless first 11 minutes, the Cadets jumped out to a 2-0 lead, starting with a faceoff deep in Potsdam’s zone which Aaron Lee won back to Jon Grabie at the left point. Grabie fired it by Ryan Venturelli to give the Cadets the advantage.
Kurtis McLean scored an unassisted goal at 12:33 when he blasted a rocket over the goalie’s glove to make it a two-goal lead.
However, Potsdam came back with one of its own just 29 seconds later. Freshman Tim Powers, getting some playing time due to Weagle’s injury, scored his first collegiate goal from a nearly impossible angle, on a shot that eluded Randy Hevey. It too, was unassisted.
After Norwich’s shorthanded goal to end the second period, Potsdam made one last gasp early in the third when Scott Craig scored on an assist by Jim Quilty.
Norwich used special teams to put the game away. McLean scored his second of the night on the power play at 6:24, and the Cadets clinched the game with yet another shorthander, set up when Potsdam’s Chris Lee and Norwich’s Marshall Lee collided, leaving the loose puck for Mike Serba to scoop up and go in alone, to make it 5-2 at 8:03.
Kurtis McLean was named MVP of the tournament. Two of his teammates were named to the All-Tournament Team — forward Matt Schmidt and defenseman Lou DiMasi. Potsdam also had two players named in forward Chris Lee and defenseman Jim Quilty. Plattsburgh’s Jason Kilcan was the third forward picked. No goaltender was selected.
Potsdam’s record drops to 7-3-2. The Bears next play Plattsburgh at home in a SUNYAC game.
Norwich remains undefeated at 4-0. The Cadets go on the road for the first time this season, playing at Amherst on Friday.