The Salem State University hockey team’s return to the NCAA tournament did not go exactly as planned.
The Vikings’ season came to an end with an 8-2 setback against Norwich last night at Kreitzberg Arena in Northfield, Vt.
The host Cadets led 3-1 after one period and scored five times in the second to cruise to the finish line.
Salem State was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since the 1994-95 season after winning the MASCAC tournament crown last weekend. They drew their old ECAC rivals from Norwich in the regionally seeded Division 3 national tournament, and the renewing of acquaintances for the Vikings and Cadets was clearly in favor of the hosts.
Dating back to the 1998-99 season, Salem State is now 0-17-1 in its last 18 meeting with Norwich, which moves on to face Babson in the Division 3 quarterfinals this weekend. The winner of that game advances to the Division 3 Frozen Four, being held in Lewiston, Maine March 21-22.
Senior goalie Ryan Sutliffe made 27 saves and played the whole way in his last start in a Vikings uniform.
Senior T.J. Hermans scored his first career goal, depositing a rebound from Peabody’s Andrew Bucci in the first period that at the time made it 3-1.
Norwich scored the next five goals, however, and Salem State didn’t tickle the twine again until Eric Defelice scored with 51 seconds to play. Kyle Phelan and Hermans earned assists on that play. The Vikings, who were outshot 35-14, finish the season 16-10-2.