February 15, 2010

The Middlebury College men's hockey team had a big week, earning six points in the NESCAC standings. The Panthers are just one point out of first place, with two points separating slots 1-4 as we enter the final weekend of league play.

Middlebury earned a big NESCAC road win as they picked up a come-from-behind 4-2 win at Williams on Tuesday night. The ninth-ranked Panthers trailed 2-0 after one period, but bounced back with three unanswered goals in the second period to defeat the sixth-ranked Ephs.

Mike Broft gave Williams a 1-0 lead with a four-on-three goal at the 13:04 mark. Williams went on the power play again less than two minutes later, as Brian Malchoff scored on a rebound for the 2-0 lead.

         Middlebury began to claw back into the game in the second and shocked the Ephs with three goals in a five minute span midway through the period.  Middlebury got on the board when senior captain John Sullivan (Delmar, N.Y.) gained control of the puck behind the net, skated out in front untouched, waited for Purdy to go down and slid the puck in on his backhand.  Middlebury scored less than a minute later when NESCAC points leader, sophomore Martin Drolet (Lachine, Que.), found junior Ken Suchoski (Bear Creek Township, Pa.) back door with a perfect pass that he redirected into the open net. Before Williams could catch their breath, the Panthers went on the power play where Suchoski buried his second of the game on a one-timer from the low slot. 

Williams got their best chances to tie the score midway through the third period on the power play.  Smigelski found Contini right on the doorstep but Contini's shot just slipped wide.  Freshman Evan Dugdale had another chance with eight minutes to play as he skated down the boards and fired a shot that beat sophomore John Yanchek (Hillsborough, N.J.)  but just missed the net.

The Panthers came within inches of taking a two-goal lead twice in the third as a shot rang the crossbar and another was waved off. Middlebury sealed the win when Sullivan scored his second of the game on an empty net goal in the waning seconds. Yanchek ended the night with 32 saves as Middlebury held a 42-34 lead in shots. 

         The weekend began as Middlebury picked up a 5-1 win at UMass.-Boston on Friday night. The Panthers outshot the Beacons 38-27 in the game as senior Charlie Townsend (Pennington, N.J.) netted a pair of goals to lead Middlebury to the win.

         Middlebury opened the game with the only two goals in the first period for a 2-0 lead. Drolet put the visitors on the board when he took a feed from rookies Mathieu Dubuc (Blainville, Que.) and Tom Clayton (New Canaan, Conn.) and potted his team-leading 14th goal of the year on the power play at the 4:03 mark.  Sullivan and sophomore Jak Knelman (Edina, Minn.) combined to set up Townsend for his first score of the night with 3:04 to go in the opening frame.

UMass Boston cut the deficit in half early in the second period.  Gentry Zollars sent a breakout pass to Anthony DeGrazia, who skated into the left slot before putting the puck on the stick of Anthony Cosmano where he found the back of the net from the right slot at 2:41 of the middle stanza. The Panthers closed out the contest with three unanswered goals, all coming in the final seven minutes of the second stanza. 

Rookie Chris Brown (Quincy, Mass.) blasted a shot from the point that sailed into the back of the net for his third goal of the campaign at the 13:46 mark and classmate Chris Steele (Revere, Mass.) followed just 31 seconds later with his third tally of the season at 14:17 for a 4-1 bulge. Middlebury capped the scoring when Knelman located Townsend for his second goal of the night and eighth of the year with 3:37 remaining in the second period for a 5-1 advantage.

Kevin Bendel stopped 25 of 30 shots in the first two periods for the Beacons, before yielding to Ryan Donovan, who turned away all eight shots on net in the final period.  Yanchek earned the victory for the Panthers with 26 saves.

Sullivan scored two goals and Townsend added a goal and an assist as Middlebury defeated host Babson, 3-1, in an ECAC East/NESCAC matchup at the Babson Skating Center on Saturday afternoon.

Middlebury got on the board with a power play goal midway through the opening period, as Sullivan poked a loose puck through the legs of Babson first-year goalie Zeke Testa out of a scrum in front at 11:39.

Knelman and Townsend each picked up assists on the play for the Panthers, who headed into the first intermission armed with a 1-0 lead.

The visitors doubled their lead with another power play goal early in the second session, beginning when Steele stopped an attempted clear at the left point. His ensuing slapshot from the blueline was saved by Testa, but the rebound trickled out to the high slot where Townsend stuffed it home at 19:47.

Middlebury went on to finish the second period with a commanding 16-7 shot advantage, but not before Babson broke through in the closing moments of the session. Ryan Smith fed the puck into the high slot, where junior Terry Woods powered his way through a pair of defenders and snapped off a quick shot that found the lower right corner for the Beavers' first goal of the contest at 18:56. It was Woods' team-leading 14th goal and 29th point of the season, as Babson cut its deficit to 2-1 heading into the final period of play.

Babson had a power play opportunity four and a half minutes into the third, but the Middlebury defense surrendered just one shot on net during the man-advantage that was easily handled by Yanchek. The Beavers then had another great scoring chance when Trevor Hines appeared to have a clean breakaway on Yanchek at 7:49, but Panther rookie defenseman Mathieu Castonguay (St. Edouard, Que.) made a fantastic diving swipe from behind to knock the puck out of play.

Middlebury sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 35.1 seconds left, as Sullivan chased down a loose puck at center-ice and skated in alone to convert his second of the game and ninth of the season, finishing off the 3-1 Panthers win.

Yanchek finished a stellar game in net with 18 saves for Middlebury, while Testa had another terrific game in goal for Babson, making 31 saves, including five straight during a crucial Panther power play midway through the third period. 

• Men’s hockey record: 14-4-4

• Up next: 1/19 @ Skidmore, 1/20 @ Castleton