January 14, 2012

Men's Hockey Upsets No. 1 Norwich University

BOSTON, Mass. – Following a power-play goal from Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.) midway through the first period, UMass Boston men's hockey would ride a then two goal lead into the final seconds of play, where despite a late tally, managed to hang on to upset previously unbeaten and the top ranked Cadets of Norwich University Saturday afternoon in the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena.

With the victory, UMass Boston improved to 7-6-2 on the year, 3-5-0 in the ECAC East.  Norwich fell to 11-1-1 overall, and 7-1-0 in the ECAC East conference.

Norwich, who has been atop the Division III national standings since the start of the 2011-12 season, suffered their first regular season loss to the Beacons since the 1990-91 season (5-3).  It also marked the first time that UMass Boston has defeated the Cadets in the Clark Athletic Center since the 1989-90 campaign when they handed Norwich a 6-4 loss.

The victory also marked the first-time that UMass Boston has defeated a team ranked in the top-5 on any college hockey national poll.

Daniel's deciding goal came at 10:54 on the power-play in the opening period.  Mike DeGrazia (Novi, Mich.), who actually scored the first goal of the afternoon, fired a shot into the Cadets crease where it was stopped by Parker Carroll.  The puck would then bounce off of Carroll and would find the stick of Daniel.  The sophomore would then tap it into the near post sending the Beacons fans into an absolute uproar.  The goal for Daniel was his fifth of the season, while DeGrazia notched his third goal of the year, and second in the last two games. 

UMass Boston would go on to lead the period in shots 8-7, while the defense held Norwich to 0-for-1 on the power-play.  It was truly the defense led by senior goalie Kevin Bendel (Denville, N.J.) that made all the difference in Saturday's contest.  Going into the second period, down by two goals Norwich kicked their offense into high gear and began to pound the Beacons backline.  However Bendel would remain strong throughout the second frame as he totaled 18 saves in the period. 

The Beacons defense which has shown tremendous improvement throughout the season actually killed off four power-play attempts in the period, which even included a 5-on-3. 

In the third, Norwich knew that they had to do something and fast if they were going to remain the only unbeaten team in the country.  However no matter what they did, they could not get the puck past Bendel, who made one tremendous stop after another.  The defense continued to dish out some hard hits of their own, which completely throwing Norwich off their game, especially in the closing minutes

It was not until the Cadets pulled Parker to gain the extra player that they were able to find the back of the Beacons goal.  With only 55 seconds remaining on the clock, the Cadets ended the shutout bid.  However the last second efforts proved to be too little too late as the Beacons celebrated perhaps one of the biggest wins in the program's history. 

Through the final two periods, Norwich dominated the shots column outshooting the Beacons 33-8.  On the power-play, Norwich was 0-for-5 overall, while UMass finished the night 1-for-2.  The win improves Bendel to 4-4-0 on the season, while Parker fell to 8-1-1. 

Men's hockey returns to action next Friday when they travel to New England College for a 7:30 p.m. ECAC East conference game.