February 9, 2009

The Middlebury College women's hockey team played three games last week, including two against teams ranked in the top five nationally. The week began as Middlebury rookie Maggie Melberg (Woody Creek, Colo.) scored with just 11 seconds remaining to lead #3 Middlebury to a 2-2 tie with #2 Plattsburgh in Kenyon Arena. The Panthers extend their unbeaten streak to nine games (7-0-2) as the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie for the second time this season, keeping the all-time series even at 7-7-2.

Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, as Plattsburgh held a 12-5 shots advantage. The Cardinals put some pressure on in the 13th minute, as sophomore Alexi Bloom (Highland Park, Ill.) denied Claire O'Connor on a breakaway. Both teams had failed power plays in the period as they entered the locker room scoreless.

Danielle Blanchard had a great chance for Plattsburgh 4:30 into the second period, but her shorthanded breakaway was denied as Bloom stacked her pads. The Panthers got on the board first at 7:24 as senior Erika Nakamura (Boston, Mass.) broke in on the left wing and scored cutting to the goal. Plattsburgh answered just 50 seconds later as Stephanie Moberg came from behind the net and quickly slid a shot into the back of the net. The Cardinals earned a penalty shot at the 13-minute mark, but Lindsay Brown was denied by a poke-check save by Bloom. Plattsburgh took the lead late in the period as Blanchard scored on the power play, putting home a rebound after a shot from Moberg was saved. The Panthers ended the period with an 8-7 lead in shots on goal.

Plattsburgh maintained the lead until the final minute when Middlebury pulled Bloom and later called a timeout. Senior Randi Dumont (Greene, Maine) won the face-off to Nakamura, who poked the puck to the slot where Melberg tied the game with just 11 seconds remaining.

An uneventful overtime saw each team with one shot on goal as the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Bloom ended the night with 24 saves, while Danielle Beattie made 16 stops for the Cardinals.

Middlebury then headed west as senior Annemarie Cellino (W. Seneca, N.Y.) and sophomore Anna McNally (St. Paul, Minn.) each had a goal and two assists to lead Middlebury past host Buffalo State, 5-1, in non-conference game at the Ice Arena. Rookie Grace Waters (Snyder, N.Y.), junior Ashley Bairos (Van Nuys, Calif.) and junior Molly West (Yarmouth, Maine) also scored for the Panthers. Kristin Bozek netted the lone goal for Buffalo State.

Bozek pulled the Bengals even at 1-1 midway through the opening period, but Middlebury went ahead for good just 45 seconds later. The Panthers added to their lead with a goal in the second period, and added two more insurance markers in the third period.

Middlebury outshot the Bengals 30-7 and was 2 for 4 on the power-play. Buffalo State was 1 for 5 with the extra attacker. Junior Lani Wright (Reading, Mass.) made six saves in goal to earn the win.

Middlebury saw its 10-game (8-0-2) unbeaten streak come to an end as they fell 4-2 on Sunday at #5 R.I.T. (17-2-2). The Tigers knock off their second straight NESCAC team after topping Amherst 4-1 on Saturday.

RIT led 3-2 late in the third period, when senior goaltender Sandra Grant made a handful of tremendous saves, including a point-blank glove save on Waters with 1:55 left in regulation.

The Panthers pulled their goalie immediately after and tried to get the tying goal, but Grant made a few other saves. Katie Stack put the game away, blocking a shot at the RIT blue-line, fending off a defenseman through the neutral zone and floating a backhander into the empty net with 50 seconds left.

Grant was tremendous in net for RIT, stopping 30 shots, while Bloom made 23 saves for Middlebury.

RIT got on the board just 1:01 in, as Sarah Dagg tapped in a loose puck at the side of the net for her 15th goal of the season. Stack centered a pass from behind the Panthers net that went off the stick of Bloom, bounced off Keltie Jones at the right side of the net, right to Dagg at the other side of the goal.

The Tigers upped their lead to 2-0 on the power-play at the 8:12 mark, as Missy Hall ripped a wrist shot off the shoulder of Bloom and just under the crossbar from the left face-off circle. Erica Owczarczak and Maegan Geypens assisted on the goal.

Middlebury cut the RIT lead in half later in the period, as Middlebury caused a turnover in the neutral zone and zoomed in on a 2-on-1. Sophomore Nora Bergman's (Concord, Mass.) initial shot from the right side was stopped by Grant, but the rebound caromed to a streaking junior Heather McCormack (Rowley, Mass.), who slid the puck home for her sixth goal of the season.

Middlebury out-shot RIT 9-8 over the opening 20 minutes of play. The two teams traded second period, as RIT held a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.

RIT.'s Ali Hills made a great rush up the right wing and found Kylie Mazzetta, who beat the defender up ice, crashing the net. Mazzetta tipped the pass in to give RIT a 3-1 lead with 3:57 left in the second period. The goal was Mazzetta¹s 10th of the season.

Bergman got Middlebury back to within one, 3-2, 2:20 later on the power-play. Middlebury changed on the fly at the blue-line and had too many players, but was not whistled. Dumont took a slap-shot from the right point that was tipped by McCormack. Grant made the initial save, but the puck caromed to Bergman at the side of the Tiger net, who tapped in the rebound for her fifth goal of the year.

McCormack and Bergman each had a goal and an assist to lead the Panthers. The four goals allowed by the Panthers are the most they have allowed in a game this season.
. Women's hockey record: 12-2-4
. Up next: 2/11 vs. Williams - 7:00, 2/14 @ Amherst, 2/15 @ Conn.