February 22, 2010

The Middlebury College women's hockey team wrapped-up its regular season as the Panthers earned a 5-0 shutout victory over Colby in Kenyon Arena. Middlebury (15-6-3, 11-4-1) earns the third seed for the NESCAC Tournament and will host #6 Hamilton in a quarterfinal game on Saturday, February 27th at 1:00. The Mules (3-16-5, 1-12-3) have earned the eighth seed and will visit top-seeded Amherst.

Middlebury controlled the pace, doubling up Colby in shots with a 36-18 advantage on the afternoon. Entering the weekend with just one goal, Middlebury rookie Libby Miner (Fairfield, Conn.) scored twice against Bowdoin on Friday, and added two more tallies in the victory over Colby.

First-year player Heather Marrison (Brewster, N.Y.) opened the scoring 9:52 into the first period with a power play goal. Miner struck at 11:32 and again at 14:16 to make it a 3-0 game after one period of play.

Senior Ashley Bairos (Van Nuys, Calif.) netted her 12th of the year 6:55 into the second period, converting a feed from Marrison. Rookie Madison Styrbicki (Edina, Minn.) scored the game's final goal on the power play, finding the back of the net with an assist from Styrbicki with 1:59 left in the second period.

Marrison, Bairos and Styrbicki each ended the game with a goal and an assist. Senior Lani Wright (Reading, Mass.) made 18 saves to earn in the win, while Loni Pisani made 31 stops for the Mules.

Bowdoin scored three goals in a 1:58 span in the second period on its way to a 4-2 upset victory over seventh-ranked Middlebury in Kenyon Arena on Friday night. The Polar Bears (11-10-2, 8-6-1) pick up their first victory over the Panthers (14-6-3, 10-4-1) in the last 12 meetings between the schools, with the home team holding a 46-17 shot advantage.

Each team failed on power play opportunities early in the first period, before a pair of end-to-end chances with 6:00 left. Bowdoin's Dominque Lizzi made a nice feed to Kim Tess-Wanat that hit the pipe, while Kayla Lessard denied Middlebury sophomore Grace Waters (Snyder, N.Y.) breaking in all alone on the other end of the ice. The Polar Bears had a great chance to take the lead in the final minute when Shelagh Merrill blocked a shot and broke in all alone shorthanded, but her backhander was partially saved by junior Alexi Bloom (Highland Park, Ill.) (13 saves) before it hit the pipe. Middlebury came right back down the ice as sophomore Maria Bourdeau (W. Hartford, Conn.) found Miner for her second of the year on the power play.

Miner struck again at 8:23 of the second, converting a great feed from first-year player Molly Downey (E. Sandwich, Mass.) behind the goal, giving the Panthers a 2-0 advantage. Middlebury went on the power play at 9:18, only to see the Polar Bears score twice shorthanded in a span of six seconds. The first came when Jill Campbell scored her seventh of the year on a breakaway with a backhander. Kayte Holtz netted her 14th of year on the ensuing face-off, snapping a quick shot into the back of the net at 10:42. Less than two minutes later, the Polar Bears took their first lead of the game, when Lizzi scored from the top of the right face-off circle. The Panthers ended the period with a 28-10 shots advantage in the game, but trailed 3-2.

Bairos nearly tied the game 2:28 into the third period, but Lessard denied her on a breakaway. The Polar Bears gained a bit of breathing room one minute later, when Merrill scored her team-leading 15th goal of the year with a wrister from the left wing. Middlebury put 18 shots on the Bowdoin net in the third period, but the Polar Bear defense held strong behind 18 saves in the period from Lessard (44 saves), on their way to the 4-2 win.

Earlier in the week, Middlebury came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 road tie at in-state foe Norwich in the first meeting between the schools. Bairos scored twice, including the game-tying goal with less than five minutes to play in the third period.

Norwich (14-4-5) broke on top 1-0 midway through the first period when Julie Fortier scored her team-leading 18th goal of the season. Sophie Leclerc started the play when she zipped a pass from behind the net to Fortier, who was camped out in front of the cage. Fortier then slipped the puck past Bloom to give the Cadets the lead at the 10:45 mark.

Norwich extended its advantage to 2-0 later in the first period when Mollie Fitzpatrick ripped a slap shot from the left point past Bloom. Leclerc and Kelsey Cone picked up assists on the play.

Middlebury got on the scoreboard at 13:48 of the second period when Bairos scored a power play goal. Styrbicki and Miner picked up assists on the goal, which was a shot from the left point.

The Panthers held a 15-9 edge in shots during the second period, as they began to turn up the pressure on Norwich netminder Cindy Fortin.

The teams went back and forth during the third period, but Middlebury was able to tie the game at the 15:45 mark when Bairos tallied her second marker of the contest off a rebound. Junior Nora Bergman (Concord, Mass.) and Bourdeau were credited with assists on the goal.

Both teams fired one shot on goal during the overtime period. Middlebury outshot Norwich 33-27 in the game. The Panthers went 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Cadets were 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.

• Women's hockey record: 15-6-3

• Up next: 2/27 vs. Hamilton - 1:00 (NESCAC Quarterfinals)