NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Dominick Dawes scored the game winning goal at the 13:54 mark of the third period as Norwich rallied from a three-goal deficit to win 5-4 over Trinity in the NCAA quarterfinals at Kreitzberg Arena on Saturday night.
Dawes poked home the rebound of a Paul Mattucci shot to give Norwich the lead for the first time in the game.
“Mattucci took a shot and I just whacked at the goalie,” said Dawes. “The puck popped out and fell right on my stick and I knocked it in.
“I can’t even explain how I feel. It’s the most exciting thing that ever happened to me in hockey.”
Norwich fell behind 2-0 in the first period.
Ryan Stevens opened the scoring for the Bantams 8:08 into the first period, taking advantage of a Norwich giveaway at its own blue line. Stevens broke in on NU freshman goalie Mike Boudreau, and beat Boudreau with the backhand.
Trinity grabbed a 2-0 lead six and a half minutes later when Joe Ori flipped home the rebound of a Brendan Timmins shot.
Jon Bokelmann got Norwich back in the game 8:37 into the third period with a one-timer from the high slot, but Trinity answered 31 seconds later when Cameron Finch scored on the rebound of a shot by Ori.
Stephen LaBrie added a breakaway goal with less than three minutes left in the second to give the Bantams a 4-1 lead.
Norwich dodged a bullet at the end of the second period. Cadets head coach Mike McShane pulled Boudreau from the goal for the final 16 seconds of the period with a faceoff in the Bantam zone. Trinity fired a long shot that just slid wide of the goal.
“I’m not usually a desperate coach,” said McShane. “But we had to make a change, it was really a gamble and we were lucky that shot missed. I thought that one was going in.
“Trinity really outworked us and outshot us in the first two periods, and when that happens you don’t usually win.”
McShane replaced Boudreau with senior Randy Hevey in goal for the third period.
“It wasn’t that Mike played badly, it was just that we needed to make a change,” said McShane. “Randy won a national championship for us as a freshman and the team really responded to the move.
“Our kids came out for the third period as fired up as any team I have ever coached.”
“(Captain) Toza (Crnilovic) really got us going coming out of the locker room,” said Dawes. “He told us it could be the last game for the seniors, that this could be it, and that we had 20 minutes left and that we didn’t want it to end. We were really up when we came out of the locker room.”
Phil Aucoin scored on a 5-on-3 power play just 3:01 into the third, when Kurtis McLean slid a pass across the crease to Aucoin, who knocked it in the left side of the net.
“Phil’s goal really gave us hope,” said Dawes. “When we cut it to one (on Matt Schmidt’s breakaway at 6:49) the crowd went crazy, screaming, and waving the towels.”
Paul Mattucci tied the game just 13 seconds later, one-timing a feed from McLean.
“Once we tied it, we knew we had them on the ropes, and all the momentum was ours,” said Dawes.
Norwich advances to the Frozen Four for the fifth time in eight years under McShane. Norwich will face St. Norbert in the semifinals next Friday. Oswego and Middlebury will meet in the other semi.