Eric Lauriault scored a natural hat-trick to lead Norwich to a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory over previously unbeaten Middlebury. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 2,600 at the Kenyon Arena, who saw the Cadets end the Panther's unbeaten streak at 28 games.
Norwich took a 1-0 lead early as Nikita Kashirsky scored on a rebound just 2:20 into the game. The Cadets ended the period with a 9-7 shots advantage, with both goaltenders looking solid.
Just 1:55 into the second period, Jeff Smith tied the game as his shot to the five-hole was briefly saved by Chance Gieni, before it trickled through his pads and across the goal line.
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead with a power play goal at the 8:52 mark of the second period. Jamie McKenna found Mickey Gilchrist who made a great move driving to the goal before finding an open Tom Maldonado for the finish.
The lead grew to 3-1 at 17:16 as Middlebury took advantage of a turnover for a shorthanded goal. Samuel Driver poked the puck away and ahead to Evgeny Saidachev, who ripped a shot to the top right corner of the left from the left face-off circle.
Norwich made it a one-goal game at 2:34 of the third period as Eric Lauriault snapped a shot in off the top pipe for a power play goal from the left side. The Cadets continued the pressure, with Ross Cherry coming up with a pair of big saves on a Norwich power play at the 6:00 mark. The Panthers caught a break with 13 minutes left as Peter Langella's shot hit the post and slid across the goal line before being cleared. The Cadets finally broke through at 7:58 as Rick Cleaver made a lengthy pass near the endline that was deflected in on the far said by Lauriault to tie the game at three.
The remainder of regulation was fast-paced, with both teams having solid chances to take the lead. Norwich wasted little time in the extra session, as Lauriault notched the hat-trick just 18 seconds in. Cleaver picked up the puck behind the net, before snapping a quick pass to Lauriault in the slot for the one-timer.
Cherry ended the game with 24 saves, while Gieni made 25 for the Cadets.
Date: February 3, 2006 - 7:00 p.m
Venue: Kenyon Arena - Site: Middlebury, Vt.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
#3 Norwich (17-2-1) 1 0 2 1 4
#1 Middlebury (16-1-2) 0 3 0 0 3
N-1st (2:20) - Nikita Kashirsky (James Huhamel)
M-2nd (1:55) - Jeff Smith
M-2nd (8:52) - PP: Tom Maldonado (Mickey Gilchrist, Jamie McKenna)
M-2nd (17:16) - SH: Evgeny Saidachev (Samuel Driver)
N-3rd (2:34) - PP: Eric Lauriault (Eric Ouelette, Kashirsky)
N-3rd (7:58) - Lauriault (Rick Cleaver, Ouelette)
OT-(:18) - Lauriault (Cleaver, Ouelette)
Ross Cherry-M (60:18 min., 24 saves, 4 GA)
Chance Gieni-N (60:18 min., 25 saves, 3 GA)