Utica, N.Y. - The Trinity College Bantams finished as the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Runner-Ups, falling, 4-1, against the Norwich University Cadets in the NCAA Tournament Finals this evening at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Trinity closes the year with a 12 wins in 13 games and a 21-7-3 record. Norwich wins the title with a 27-1-3 record having not lost a game since November 18 (23-2). Senior forward Ryan Cole (Anchorage, Alaska), who had an assist tonight and in Trinity's 3-2 win over St. Norbert in the semifinals yesterday, and junior forward Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass.), who had a hand in all four Bantam goals in the semifinals and finals this weekend, represented Trinity on the all-tournament team.
"This was a tremendous tournament and the NCAA and the city of Utica did an unbelievable job with it," said Trinity Head Coach Matt Greason. "We just got behind a little, and I thought we did a good job of pushing back but Norwich just withstood it like great teams do. The result was the product of us playing a championship hockey team and had nothing to do with the effort we put forth."
The defenses were in control for the vast majority of the scoreless first period with Trinity heading to the locker room with a slim shooting edge of 12-to-11. Both teams killed off early power plays without allowing a shot on goal and the Bantams held firm against a second Cadet power play late in the opening stanza. Trinity senior forward Ethan Holdaway (Glastonbury, Conn.) got off a wrist shot from 12 feet away on the right wing, but Norwich senior goalie Ty Reichenbach (Billings, Mont.) made the save.
The offenses put much more pressure on in the second period, and Norwich struck first when senior forward Nick Pichette (Massena, N.Y.) flipped a backhanded pass across the crease that trickled in front of Trinity junior goaltender Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) and through the Bantam defense to classmate Anthony Flaherty (Boston, Mass.) who smacked it into the net 1:38 after the first intermission. Trinity senior forward Sean Orlando (Ivyland, Pa.) nearly tied it with a backhand moments later, while junior forward Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklervile, N.J.) was denied by Reichenbach on a rebound during a scrum in front of the crease just under five minutes into the second period and drew a Norwich penalty on the play.
The Cadets blocked two Sabitsky shots before Whitney made good on the opportunity with the extra skater and tying the score at the 5:04 mark with assists credited to Cole and first-year defenseman Liam Feeney (Foxboro, Mass.). Norwich answered quickly when rookie forward Todd Jackson (Holly Springs, N.C.) scored on a rush from freshman defenseman T.J. Dockery (Lockport, N.Y.) with 12:53 remaining in the second frame. Trinity killed off another penalty late in the second, as Morin made two of 11 saves in the middle period, and the Cadets held a 2-1 lead entering the third.
In the third period, Norwich took a 3-1 lead early, as Reichenbach made a great stop on a bid by Trinity freshman forward Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) and Cadet senior forward Paul Russell (North Andover, Mass.) scored unassisted moments later at the 6:19 mark. Bantam first-year defenseman Andy Chugg (Mesa, Ariz.) took a pass behind the Cadet defense and shot over Reichenbach's shoulder from point-blank range but the puck hit the cross bar with just under five minutes remaining, and Cole just missed wide with a backhand just in front of the net moments later. Trinity had two power plays in the third period, and nearly got within a goal during the second, but Reichenbach saved a hard wrist shot by Bantam junior blue liner Griffyn Martin (Westport, Conn.) at 18:30, and Holdaway's rebound was just wide. Norwich added an empty-netter with 25 seconds on the clock by senior forward William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec).
"We really turned our season around after a tough mid-season, especially when we lost both games on our Maine trip but we kept the pedal to the metal right up to the end," said Trinity senior captain Ethan Holdaway (Glastonbury, Conn.).
"I can't say enough about this senior class," added Greason. "It's the greatest in the history of the program, both in terms of what they accomplished on the ice and who they are as human beings. I am proud of them and am going to miss working with them."