PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. –Vanessa Champagne and Tori Charron scored first-period goals, staking Norwich to an early lead against Wisconsin-River Falls, who despite a dominate second half, could not overcome the title game-bound Cadets.
The 4-2 victory was the 19th consecutive victory for the Cadets (27-3-0).
“We were fortunate to get up early,” said Cadets’ coach Mark Bolding. “That makes such a big difference in these types of games because it gets tight for the other group. But boy, they turned it on in the second half of the game and you could see how skilled they were when entering the zone.”
Wisconsin-River Falls falls to 22-5-3.
“We came out slow, not moving our feet like we normally do,” said Falcons’ coach Joe Cranston following the loss that relegates his club to Saturday’s third-place game. “A lot of credit to Norwich because they dictated the play. We didn’t get a good performance early on.”
Norwich goalie Taylor Fairchild, who upped her season record to 15-2-0, registered 34 saves.
Champagne’s opening salvo occurred on the Cadets’ initial power-play opportunity of the game at 6:02.
“Vanessa’s goal really made a difference and then a quick one from Tori and some timely saves from Taylor happened all before they were able to get anything going,” said Bolding.
“Once we got going, I thought we played pretty well, but (Fairchild) played well late in the game,” Cranston said. “Overall, when we look at 60 minutes of hockey, the better team won tonight.”
Nicolette Gosselin upped the Norwich lead to 4-0 when she finished off a sharply-played two-on-one with Meghan Parsons with 3:07 remaining in the second period.
The Falcons’ Chloe Kinsel collected her 16th goal of the season with 48 seconds left in the period when she tapped the puck by Fairchild out of a scrum down low.
Wisconsin-River Falls nudged to within a pair with 6:19 left in regulation as Dani Sibley fired a shot by Fairchild, who was left helpless as a giveaway in the Cadets’ zone went in the Falcons’ favor.
“They were stronger than we are,” said Cranston. “They won a lot of the one-on-one battles. It was a lot of clutch and grab and we just couldn’t battle them.”
“Our confidence is up there,” said Champagne, looking forward to facing Plattsburgh for the third time this season in Saturday’s final.
Plattsburgh won both games this season against Norwich by 6-0 finals.
“We’ve come so far this year, but we are really a new team in a sense,” Champagne said. “They’re a great opponent and we’ll have to work hard, but we’re ready.”