For the third straight year, the Hobart College hockey team will make the 300-mile trip to Northfield, Vt., to take on Norwich in the New England Hockey Conference Championship game. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena on Saturday, March 7.
Tickets for Saturday are $8 for adults, $5 for students and $5 for youth. Tickets are available at https://cadetstickets.universitytickets.com/.
The Statesmen are ranked No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 3 in the PairWise Rankings. The Cadets are No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 2 in the PairWise rankings.
Hobart is the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and brings a 20-4-3 record into the championship game. The Statesmen reached the title game thanks to a pair of 4-2 wins over Skidmore and New England College. The Cadets are the top seed in the tournament and 23-2-2 overall. Norwich knocked off travel partner Castleton 9-0 and Southern Maine 5-0 to advance to the championship game.
Hobart and Norwich have squared off in each of the past two NEHC Championship games. The Statesmen defeated the Cadets 3-0 in 2018-19. Frank Oplinger ’19 made 30 saves and was named the tournament’s most valuable player, helping Hobart lift the trophy in its first year in the conference. Last year, The Cadets squeaked out a 2-1 win on Felix Brassard’s third period goal.
The Statesmen have won eight straight games since being shut out by then No. 2 Norwich on Jan. 25. With their 4-2 win over the Pilgrims, Hobart notched its 20th win of the season, marking the fifth time in the last six seasons that the Statesmen have hit the 20-win plateau.
Hobart ranks among the nation’s best teams in winning percentage (6th, .796), scoring offense (7th, 4.30), scoring margin (7th, +2.07), penalty kill (8th, 87.6%) and scoring defense (13th, 2.22). Hobart’s 116 goals are seventh most in Division III. The Statesmen have spread the wealth around, utilizing its entire roster to accumulate 307 points. Twenty-two different players have scored a goal, 23 have an assist, and 24 have recorded a point. Sixteen different players have hit double digits in points and four have tallied 20 or more points this season.
Senior captains Zach Sternbach and Lawson MacDougall share the team lead with 24 points each. Sternbach leads the team with 13 goals. Junior Mike Faulkner has a team best 20 assists. Junior Alec Robitialle (12g, 8a) is the other Statesman with 20 points.
Sophomore goalie Liam Lascelle has played a majority of the minutes recently. He is 8-1-0 this season with a .924 save percentage and a 1.85 goals against average. Fellow sophomore Joe Halstrom is 12-3-3 overall with a 2.37 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
Norwich has won 10 straight games and is unbeaten in its last 17 tries. The Cadets did not allow a goal in the month of February. Norwich is first in the nation in winning percentage (.889) and scoring defense (0.89), second in penalty kill percentage (93.0%), the second least penalized team in the nation (averaging 7.5 penalty minutes per game), third in scoring margin (+2.89 gpg), 11th on the power play (25.2%) and 17th in scoring offense (3.78 gpg).
Norwich is led by Felix Brassard (18g, 13a) and Gabriel Chicoine (5g, 26a) who have 31 points each. Brassard leads the team with 18 goals and Chicoine has a team-best 26 assists. Tom Aubrun has played all but 60 minutes in goal. He is 22-2-2 with a .965 save percentage and a miniscule 0.80 GAA. Aubrun has not allowed a goal in 512:31, a NCAA record. His 12 shutouts this season are tied for the NCAA Division III record.
Saturday’s game will be the third match up between the two teams this season. Norwich won both games during the regular season. The Cadets lead the all-time series 6-4-1. The series is tied 4-4-0 in Northfield, Vt.
Fans unable to make it to the game can follow the action online with Live Stats and Video. The game will be broadcast on WHWS-FM (105.7 in Geneva).