Trinity Loses 4-1 To Norwich For Division III Hockey Title – Hartford Courant
This was not a perfect season for Trinity, certainly not one that followed the path its coach assumed it would. There were multiple concerns that by mid-January needed to be addressed.
Luckily for the Bantams, there was time to save things. And that’s precisely what they did over the last two months when everything was slowly put back on its track.
And thanks to an 11-game winning streak that righted the program, the Bantams, with just one loss since Jan. 14, were at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday playing for their second national championship in three seasons.
With the aggressiveness that has always defined their play in good times, the Bantams, a team seemingly at its peak, took on Division III’s top-ranked team, Norwich, which was trying to win its fourth national championship.
But this is where the story ended. The Bantams gave up the first goal and seemed perpetually in comeback mode until there was no time remaining in Norwich’s 4-1 win.
“There’s a reason Norwich lost only once this season,” Trinity coach Matt Greason said. “They have a really good hockey team, a really good coach, they play hard and are physical — all the cliches and catch phrases every coach uses. That’s what Norwich is.
“But I thought we pushed back as hard as we could. I thought we played hard, although sometimes we were frustrated with some of the decisions we made coming out of our zone. But they weathered the storm, just like we’ve done so many times. I don’t think the loss tonight was a product of us not showing up. It’s a product of two great teams playing and when they do it’s a bounce here and a bounce there.”
After a scoreless first period, the Bantams twice fell behind by a goal in the second and seemed constantly running up hill as the third period began with them trailing 2-1.
Then Norwich’s Paul Russell came from behind the Trinity net and scored at 6:19 of the third to give the Cadets a substantial cushion. The Bantams picked up a couple of penalties, which slowed their attempt at a rally. And then an empty-net goal at 19:35 wrapped things up.
“Maybe we didn’t respond as quickly as we have in the past,” Trinity senior Ethan Holdaway said. “The only that was different is that we didn’t put the puck in the net. But we battled hard. We just couldn’t put the puck in the net.”
Just after the Bantams defeated St. Norbert in the semifinals on Friday, the Cadets defeated Adrian 5-4 in overtime after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period extending their unbeaten streak to 24 straight games, surpassing the 2000 national championship team’s run of 23. They had not lost since Nov. 18 with only two ties. And now the streak carries into next season at 25.
The first period was tightly contested and scoreless. The Bantams took 12 shots on goal, the Cadets had 11. If anyone had the advantage it was Norwich, which had two of the period’s three power play opportunities. But good chances were few – the Cadets had only two shots on goal in their four minutes of advantage time — and Alex Morin (31 saves) and Ty Reichenbach (35 saves) were equal to the task.
What was clear from the start was that both teams were anxious to use their speed to launch transition rushes. But the checking was fierce and the going was tougher than the planning.
Then things opened up in the second beginning with Norwich’s opening goal at 1:38 by Anthony Flaherty off a rebound that Morin couldn’t react to quickly enough on his stick side.
But just like Friday, the Bantams quickly responded. Barely one minute into a another power play chance, defenseman Liam Feeney’s shot from the blue line was redirected behind Reichenbach by Tyler Whitney at 5:04. Whitney assisted on all three Trinity tallies in Friday’s win over St. Norbert.
Then Norwich took another lead at 8:07 when Todd Jackson broke in unassisted and beat Morin to the glove side. The Bantams responded to that by putting the heat on the Cadets goal, but they could not score, sending the game into the third period with them behind by one.