January 19, 2009

The Middlebury College men's hockey team got back on track last week as they picked up a pair of key NESCAC road wins in Maine. The Panthers closed Bowdoin's Dayton Arena the same way they opened it 52 years ago, by defeating the Polar Bears on Friday night. Middlebury scored in each period on their way to a 5-2 win.

Middlebury controlled the play early and got on the board first, as sophomore Michael Kretschmer (Indianapolis, Ind.) rifled a shot from the point to give the visitors a 1-0 lead just 4:59 into the contest. Richard Nerland swept aside the other 11 chances he faced in the opening stanza, however, as Middlebury carried their one-goal advantage into the second frame.

A power play chance resulted in the Panthers doubling their lead early in the second period. First-year player Charlie Strauss (Eagle River, Wis.) finished off a series of nice passes to give Middlebury a 2-0 advantage just 36 seconds into the frame. The Panthers continued their offensive pressure and finished off an odd-man rush when Strauss banged home a rebound at 4:01.

Bowdoin's first power play of the game resulted in their first score, as Mike Corbelle deposited a rebound off a shot by Graham Sisson at 11:52 to close the gap to 3-1 after forty minutes. The Polar Bears continued to chip away at the Middlebury lead after controlling the first 10 minutes of the third stanza. Mike Corbelle cut loose into a slapshot from the blue line that was deflected in front by Sisson and past Middlebury rookie John Yanchek (Hillsborough, N.J.) to make it 3-2 with 9:38 remaining.

Bowdoin continued to press, but a dump-in by Middlebury led to a bouncing puck which came to the stick of junior John Sullivan (Delmar, N.Y.), who deposited it top-shelf to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead with under three minutes to play. The Panthers iced the game just moments later, as an odd-man rush saw sophomore Ken Suchoski (Bear Creek Township, Pa.) feed senior Mason Graddock (Stowe, Vt.) to make it 5-2 with 2:15 left.

Yanchek stopped 26 shots for Middlebury, while Nerland finished with 31 saves for Bowdoin.

Middlebury completed a weekend sweep in Maine as they picked up a 6-3 win at Colby. Senior Jamie McKenna (Lake Placid, N.Y.) earned a hat-trick in the game, surpassing the 100 point mark (102) in his career, while Yanchek made 21 saves in goal to earn the win.

Leading 1-0 after one on a goal from Graddock, Colby tied the game at the 6:47 mark with a tally from Michael Doherty. The Panthers answered with a pair of second period goals from sophomore Chaz Svoboda (Verdun, Que.) and Sullivan on the power play to take a 3-1 lead.

McKenna came on strong in the third period for the Panthers, scoring twice with assists from sophomore Bryan Curran (Wilmette, Ill.) and rookie Tucker Donahoe (Canton, Mass.) to make it a 5-1 game. Colby cut the lead to 5-3 before McKenna notched the hat-trick with just 1:57 left to play, sealing the 6-3 win. Cody McKinney made 24 saves in goal for the Mules.

Earlier in the week, Middlebury outshot Williams 43-28 but it wasn't enough, as the Panthers settled for a 4-4 tie with the Ephs. Williams came from two goals down in the third period to earn the tie, as neither team found the back of the net in overtime.

Middlebury had some great opportunities early as Williams took three penalties within a 1:45 span. The Panthers broke through with a five-on-three goal at 6:20 as Strauss scored after a shot by rookie Martin Drolet (Lachine, Que.) skidded off the pads of Marc Pulde. Williams had a pair of power play chances later in the period, but could not score as they were outshot 12-9 in the period.

Williams tied the game early in the second period as Matt Masucci took advantage of a turnover and snapped a shot into the top corner from the left wing. The Ephs took advantage of another turnover just 3:37 later as Matt Dreiheim converted a breakaway. Middlebury tied the game at 10:31 as Strauss stuffed home a rebound after a shot from Suchoski was saved. Just 53 seconds later, the Panthers regained the lead at 3-2 as junior Charlie Townsend (Pennington, N.J.) scored from just outside the crease.

The lead grew to 4-2 in the third as Drolet and McKenna worked the puck back and forth before Drolet one-timed a blast from the high slot. Williams answered at 9:56 as Christopher Fahey scored with a shot from the high slot. The Ephs tied the game with just 2:34 remaining as Justin Troiani scored with a quick snap shot from the left side after a feed from Dreiheim.

Williams had two power play opportunities in overtime, but could not convert as Middlebury held on for the tie.
. Men's hockey record: 10-2-1
. Up next: 1/23 vs. St. Anselm - 7:00, 1/24 vs. N.E.C. - 4:00