norwich

Norwich forward Brett Ouderkirk fires a shot against Hobart during the NEHC championship at Kreitzberg Arena in Northfield on Saturday.

NORTHFIELD — Saturday is going to be a big night for Division III college hockey, but the Norwich men will be resting and waiting.

The Cadets are on fire in 2019, going 15-0-2 and carrying a 17-game unbeaten streak into their NCAA Tournament opener on March 16. All of the recent success helped Norwich earn a first-round bye, giving the Cadets a chance to scout their future opponent when Trinity (19-3-5) hosts the University of New England (20-6-2) on Saturday. The winner will travel to Kreitzberg Arena for a quarterfinal contest, with a spot in the Frozen Four up for grabs.

Norwich (21-4-3) won its 13th New England Hockey Conference Tournament title with a 2-1 victory over Hobart last weekend to secure an automatic bid in the 12-team NCAA tourney. The Cadets will be making their 18th NCAA Tournament appearance and will need three wins to secure their fifth national title.

Trinity won the NESCAC Tournament title with a 3-2 overtime victory over Amherst on Sunday. The Bantams scored the game-winning goal with 0.1 seconds left in the first overtime to clinch the NESCAC automatic bid.

The University of New England won the CCC Tournament title for the first time with a 6-2 win over Salve Regina on Saturday. The Nor’Easters are making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after securing an at-large bid last season.

Norwich is familiar with both opponents, as the Cadets beat Trinity 4-1 to win their fourth national championship in 2017. UNE was previously a member of the New England Hockey Conference with Norwich before the Nor’Easters left for the CCC after the 2015-16 season.

Three NEHC teams earned spots in this year’s NCAA field, with UMass Boston and Hobart securing at-large bids. The other first round matchups will feature St. Norbert hosting Augsburg, UMass Boston hosting Manhattanville and Hobart hosting Plymouth State. Joining Norwich with first-round byes are UW-Stevens Point, Geneseo and Oswego.

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