Norwich Cadets (23-1-4 overall, 16-1-2 in the ECAC East)
The top ranked Cadets come into the NCAA tournament as the number one overall seed, following their winning the ECAC East conference title last weekend in Northfield. The formula of great goaltending, a very tight defense, and balanced scoring continues to drive the success of the Cadets under head coach Mike McShane.
â€œLast week was a great atmosphere at home hosting the final four in the conference tournament,â€ McShane said. â€œWe had the color guard on the ice and opening puck drop by an Olympic gold medalist from Norwich, Vermont that really got the crowd revved up so I wonâ€™t be surprised for much of the same excitement his week against Elmira or Curry.
â€œIt really doesnâ€™t matter which one of the teams we play as everyone is playing well at this point of the season or they wouldnâ€™t be playing this week — we will be ready to play and go out focus on executing our style of play.â€
One thing that should concern any opponent facing the Cadets is that they are demonstrating that they are not just a one line team. As good as the trio of Chad Anderson, Blake Forkey and Kyle Thomas has been, the balance and production from other lines and offense from the back line has more than compensated for teams trying to shut down the first line.
â€œWe definitely like to roll out four lines, keep a high tempo in the game and continue to apply pressure on the opposition,â€ said McShane. â€œWe have seen good balance among all of our lines and that really is how we were successful last weekend by playing strong defense and getting timely goals from a number of different players in both games of the conference finals last weekend.â€
The Cadets are anchored by senior goalie Ryan Klingensmith who has been very effective in making the big saves and focused on playing behind one of the nationâ€™s best defensive units. For most goalies, they feel more comfortable when they get a consistent number of shots and touches on the puck to get in a groove and flow of the game.
Klingensmith has excelled in a routine where his shot totals have been limited but the quality of chances has forced him to be very good when needed.
â€œTyler [Stitt], Eric [Tallent] and Greg [Eskedjian] along with the rest of the defensemen have really been a big part of our success in limiting the opponentâ€™s chances and transitioning the puck quickly to the forwards and start the attack,â€ noted McShane.
â€œWhile we have had great play from some of the younger guys like Blake [Forkey] and Kyle [Thomas], we are very experienced and playing very well right now. The freshmen arenâ€™t playing like freshmen and really havenâ€™t for quite awhile. We want to continue the success we have had over the season and really enjoy our last chance to play at home this season.â€
The Cadets are a formidable team for any opponent, scoring at a five goal per game clip and surrendering just over one goal defensively. The ultimate goal for this team has not yet been attained, but is within sight in these final two weekends of the year.
Norwich this season has commemorated their 100th year of having college hockey, as well as the tenth anniversary of their 2000 national championship team. The 2010 team would like to stamp their legacy with a march through this yearâ€™s NCAA tournament and have all of the pieces to play for a title on March 20 in Lake Placid.