Middlebury's Zach Shapiro scored 1:45 into Friday's overtime, lifting Middlebury to a 2-1 win over top-ranked Norwich (7-1-0). With the victory, the Panthers advance to the title game of the 22nd Annual PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut which is taking place in Plattsburgh State's Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. Middlebury (4-1-0) will play third-ranked UW-Eau Claire, a 6-1 winner in the day's second game over the host Cardinals, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the championship.
The first period went scoreless with Norwich holding a 19-2 edge in shots, but Panther goalie Brian Ketchabaw stopped all 19 shots he faced in the stanza. The best scoring chance for the Cadets came on the powerplay with less than two minutes remaining, as back-to-back bids on the doorstep by Felix Brassard and Brett Ouderkirk were both saved by Ketchabaw.
In the middle frame, the Panthers got on the scoreboard first at the 11:36 mark when Matt Danner received a pass in the slot from Tyler Capello, as Danner ripped a shot into the back of the net for his first goal of the season. The Cadets pushed for the equalizer in the latter stages of the period, tying the game at 1-1 at 19:17 on the powerplay. Ryan Boucher lifted a shot from the right dot that Ketchbaw saved with his right pad, but the rebound bounced to Brassard, who ripped his ninth goal of the season into the upper-left corner. The Panthers held a 10-6 edge in shots during the frame.
The third period saw good chances for both teams. Near the midway point of the stanza, Norwich went on the powerplay, but Ketchabaw stopped both chances and a shot by Connor Swystun went just wide left as the penalty expired. Ketchabaw made one of his best saves of the period at 14:32 following a faceoff, as a shot from between the circles by Phil Elgstam was kicked away. The Panthers had a 5-on-3 chance for 1:51 late in the period that included a five-minute major on the Cadets, but were unable to get a shot past Norwich goalie Tom Aubrun. The two teams skated 4-on-4 for the final 1:26 of action, but neither side scored, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra frame during the opening minute, Ketchabaw stopped a bid by Norwich's Matt Burchill with his left pad, as a rebound attempt from Noah Williams went just wide right. Just after the Cadet penalty expired, a scrum in front of the Norwich goal with players from each side battling for the puck saw Shapiro muscle in a shot for his team-best third goal of the season. The game-winner at the 1:45 mark sent the Panthers to the title game.
Ketchabaw finished with 36 saves in the victory, while Aubrun made 19 stops for the Cadets. Norwich held a 37-21 advantage in shots, as the Panthers went 0-2 on the power play, while the Cadets were 1-3 with the extra skater.
Entering Friday's contest, Norwich was one of four teams left in Division III with a perfect record and one of five without any blemishes.