NORTHFIELD — A history of winning isn’t reserved for just the men’s hockey program at Norwich University. Those Cadet women are pretty darned good too.
On Friday night, the team got to celebrate its 2017-2018 NCAA Division III National Championship once more as their banner was raised into the rafters at Kreitzberg Arena.
“It was very special,” Norwich coach Mark Bolding said. “The school, the history, the tradition. Just to be able to do it once and now to do it again, we’re very lucky and thankful to the crowd that showed up.
Of course there was also the little matter of Southern Maine hoping to ruin Norwich’s grand evening. In the end though, the Cadets took care of the Huskies 2-1 in championship fashion.
Both Norwich and Southern Maine had won twice in New England Hockey Conference matchups, and held a share of first place.
“You don’t ask how you do it, it’s just about getting it done,” Bolding said. “The defense were crisp moving it across and that first goal was a beauty of a pass across the net.”
After a scoreless first period, the Cadets finally got on the board with a little tic-tac-toe action courtesy of Kirsten Watts. As teammates Bryn Labbe and KC Herne slid the puck back and forth, their effort got Southern Maine goalie Whitney Padgett (47 saves) leaning too far one way allowing Watts to finish strong.
The Cadets tallied their second goal in the third period via the stick of Adrieana Rossini, who slid the puck in to make it 2-0.
Southern Maine’s Jill Hannigan followed with her team’s only goal at 10:30 of the final stanza to make it 2-1 and send a little doubt towards the Cadet bench.
“We talked about that and we’ll score some goals as we move on with the season,” Bolding said. “Southern Maine didn’t go away, but we talked about how it all starts in your own zone.”
Late in the period, the Cadet penalty kill provided the difference in the game as they shut down the Huskies with less than five minutes to go in the game to seal the victory.
Norwich outshot Southern Maine 45-14 on the night, and at times they dazzled with the puck when on offense. Watts, Samantha Benoit and Rossini covered a lot of ice for Norwich.
“Our game was fun and we really worked hard as a team,” Watts said. “I dropped down to the hash marks on that goal and Bryn saw me and it was in the net before I even saw it. The defensive aspect of the game was very important for us tonight because we know if we perform there the goals will eventually come.”
Norwich (2-0-0 NEHC, 3-2-0 overall) will face New England College next Friday at 5 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena. Southern Maine (2-2-1) heads south for a conference tilt with Castleton on Saturday at 4 p.m.