NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich women's ice hockey team scored five straight goals to rally from a 2-0 second period deficit en route to a crucial 5-3 non-conference victory over No. 4-ranked Middlebury on Tuesday night at Kreitzberg Arena.
Senior team captain Melissa Rundlett (Saco, Maine) tallied two goals, including the eventual game-winning goal to lead the Norwich (20-2-1, 15-0-1 ECAC East) offense.
Despite being whistled for four penalties in the first period, the Cadets escaped without surrendering a goal and went into the first intermission still tied 0-0.
However, shortly after Norwich killed off Middlebury's 5-on-3 power play that carried over into the start of the second period, the Panthers finally got on the board when Maggie Woodward banked a shot off Norwich goalie Kelly Fisk's (Hannibal, N.Y.) left pad from the bottom of the right face-off circle to make it 1-0 at the 1:54 mark.
Emily Fluke increased the Middlebury (18-3-2, 16-2-0 NESCAC) lead to 2-0 at the 7:16 mark with a power play goal off an assist from Grace Waters. Waters made a tremendous individual effort by backhanding the puck up to Fluke on the doorstep of the crease from the seat of her pants in the right face-off circle. Fluke corralled the pass on her backhand, flipped the puck over to her forehand to get Fisk to commit and then slammed the puck into an open right side with Fisk sprawling to try and get a glove on it.
In desperate need of a spark, sophomore forward Renee Lortie (Cornwall, Ontario) stepped up with her 16th goal of the season to cut the deficit to one with a power play goal just past the midway point of the second period at 10:26. Lortie slammed the puck into a wide open net after she pounced on a loose puck sitting in the crease. Junior forward Jillayne DeBus (Howell, Mich.) and sophomore defenseman Marie-Philip Guay (Longueuil, Quebec) picked up assists on the goal.
Just over three minutes later, Norwich tied the game up at two with a textbook tic-tac-toe set up to lead to freshman forward Kaycie Anderson's (Maple Plain, Minn.) 17th goal of the season.
Anderson re-directed a shot into the upper right hand corner of the net after Stephanie Invernizzi (Hingham, Mass.) found her streaking to the doorstep of the crease. Amanda Wilks (Winnipeg, Manitoba) started the scoring chance when she kept the puck in at the blue line, side stepped a Middlebury player and sent a cross ice pass to Invernizzi standing in the left face-off circle.
The Cadets kept the momentum rolling at the start of the third period when DeBus gave Norwich its first lead with her 16th goal of the season just 1:13 into the final frame.
DeBus skated the puck into the zone from the right wing after collecting an outlet pass from Brittany Sharman (Ayer's Cliff, Quebec). With a Middlebury defender in front of her, DeBus did a 360-spin to create space and then slid the puck through Middlebury goalie Annabelle Jones' five-hole to give the Cadets a 3-2 lead.
Rundlett tipped home a blast from Kayla Parsons (Fairbanks, Alaska) at the point to increase the Norwich lead to 4-2 at the 13:48 mark of the third period for her first goal of the night.
She then put the game away for good exactly five minutes later when she scored an empty netter to make it 5-2. Senior forward Julie Fortier (Saint-Malachie, Quebec) created the chance when she blocked a shot and then dove at full extension to poke the puck over to Rundlett who take care of the rest with a wrist shot into the wide open Middlebury net for her 13th goal of the season.
Fortier's assist tied her with Sophie Leclerc for the program record for career points at 163.
Middlebury's Madeline Joyce scored a power play goal with nine seconds left to cap the scoring.
The Panthers finished 2-for-8 on the power play, while Norwich was 1-for-4. Middlebury outshot Norwich 24-22.
Fisk stopped 21 shots for Norwich to improve to 13-1-0 on the season. Jones made 17 saves for Middlebury and fell to 12-3-2 on the year.
The Cadets improved to 2-0-1 in the all-time series against Middlebury. They won last year's meeting 3-2 in Middlebury after skating to a 2-all tie in 2010 at Kreitzberg in the inaugural meeting.
Norwich will go for its second straight unbeaten ECAC East regular season this weekend at Kreitzberg Arena by hosting Salve Regina at 4 p.m. on Friday and Holy Cross on Saturday at 1 p.m. Salve Regina is the lone team to put a blemish on Norwich's record the last two seasons. The Seahawks have tied Norwich in back-to-back years.
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