NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Kurtis McLean scored a hat trick in the third period to lead defending national champion Norwich to a 9-5 win over Hobart in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Norwich jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first 14:26 of the game, but Hobart responded with a pair of two-man advantage power play goals, and then a shorthanded breakaway goal by Lee Carrier to cut the Cadets lead to 4-3 at the end of the first period.
“That was something else,” said Norwich coach Mike McShane. “We got up 4-0, but I didn’t feel we were playing that well; I thought we got a lucky on couple of bounces.”
The Statesmen scored the only marker of the second period, with Conor Bradley tipping in an Adam Scott shot from the point.
Norwich played the second period without forwards Paul Mattucci and Matt Schmidt, who were both sat out for that period by coach Mike McShane for disciplinary reasons.
“A couple of penalties put us back in the hole and they took advantage of it with a good power play,” said McShane. “We sat a couple of kids out in the second period, and went with three lines, and it wasn’t easy . . . it worked out . . . if we are going to go anywhere, we have to play smart, disciplined hockey.”
“We had a good start,” said McLean, “They got the tie in the second period and it was a back and forth period.
“We knew we weren’t playing too well,” said Norwich’s Lou DiMasi. “We didn’t play our game in the second period.”
Hobart netted its fifth unanswered goal at 3:28 of the third period, when Scott knocked home the second rebound of a pair of Statesman shots, and Hobart took the lead for the first — and only — time of the game, 5-4.
The Cadets responded 28 seconds later, when McLean wristed one in from the slot off of a centering pass from Brian Mullally.
“It was real important [to get that goal right back],” said McShane. “You don’t want it to go to far. But there was plenty of time left, and when you have time the kids stay loose. Kurtis got a nice pass there.”
“We’re a pretty old team, with a lot of seniors who have been together for three years,” said McLean. “We’ve been in this situation before, and the guys don’t panic if we get down a goal. We just kept working hard, and when you work hard good things happen.”
“Kurtis gave us a big boost and we just kept rolling from there,” said DiMasi.
Norwich regained the lead just 1:11 after that, when senior defenseman Lou DiMasi fired a shot through traffic on the power play to take a 6-5 lead.
The Cadets tacked on three more, to make it five unanswered goals of their own, with McLean adding his second and third of the night, and Schmidt capped the scoring at 13:27 of the fourth.
“We bounced back and played very disciplined, stayed within the system and made good decisions in the third period, and stayed tough as a team,” said McShane.
“We started wearing them down in the third period and eventually they ran out of gas,” said McLean. Norwich outshot the Statesmen, 47-32. Adam Lavelle stopped 38 shots for the Statesmen, while Mike Boudreau made 27 saves for Norwich.
Norwich improves to 24-3 on the season and will advance to the Division III semifinals for the third straight year, and sixth time overall. The Cadets won their 21st straight game at Kreitzberg Arena dating back to last year’s playoffs.
The Cadets will face Middlebury, a 9-1 winner over Wentworth tonight in another quarterfinal game, next Friday night, at a site to be determined.
Hobart’s season comes to an end at 15-8-5. The Statesmen were making their first NCAA tournament appearance.