February 22, 2010

The Middlebury College men's hockey team ended its regular season with a 7-3 win at in-state foe Castleton. The Panthers finish the regular season 16-4-4, 12-3-4 in NESCAC play, good for second place overall in the league standings with 28 points. Bowdoin clinched the top seed in the tourney with 29 points. Middlebury returns to action next Saturday when they host seventh-seeded Tufts in a NESCAC Quarterfinal match-up at 4:00 p.m. The Spartans fall to 9-11-5 overall and 7-9-3 ECAC East.

            In the first period, Middlebury cracked the scoreboard first on the power play at 9:03. Sophomore Charlie Strauss (Eagle River, Wis.) received a no-look centering pass from junior teammate Chaz Svoboda (Verdun, Que.) and Strauss finished on the one-timer exchange for his fifth goal of the season past Castleton goaltender Arthur Hollinger for a 1-0 lead.

         The Spartans answered back late in the period with a power play goal of their own at 14:07. Josh Harris received a feed from Kirk Bolduc just in front of the left circle and snapped a wrist shot through sophomore John Yanchek's (Hillsborough, N.J.) five-hole for his ninth goal of the season (seventh power play) to tie the game at 1-1.

         The Panthers wasted little time in the second period regaining the lead at 2:06. Just 25 seconds into the man advantage, senior John Sullivan (Delmar, N.Y.) notched his 10th goal of the season past Hollinger for a 2-1 lead. Senior Charlie Townsend (Pennington, N.J.) and rookie Tom Clayton (New Canaan, Conn.) were credited with assists.

         The back-and-forth action continued as Castleton evened the score at 11:05 on the power play thanks in large part to Hollinger. The rookie goaltender negated a 2-on-1 Middlebury shorthanded scoring chance robbing sophomore Martin Drolet's (Lachine, Que.) point-blank bid giving the Spartans a 3-on-2 rush up ice.

            After the save, Schoeneberger gained possession of the loose puck and caromed a pass up ice to Harris off of the bench side boards sending Castleton on the break. Harris corralled the feed from Schoeneberger and zipped a pass to Bolduc in the slot for his eighth goal of the season.

            Middlebury responded quickly, however, scoring three-consecutive goals over the next 4:47 of play to put the Spartans away.

         Townsend found the back of the net at 14:44 for his 11th goal of the season. Sophomore Jak Knelman (Edina, Minn.) tallied his second goal of the season at 18:47 and Sullivan buried his second goal of the evening whistling a wrister over Hollinger's blocker to cap the Panthers three-goal spurt.

            In the third, Castleton cut into the deficit at 14:19 to make it 5-3 with its third power play goal. Dan Bell beat Yanchek at the doorstep with a backhander for his third goal of the season.

            The Spartans momentum only lasted for a minute and 18 seconds as sophomore Nick Resor (Westwood, Mass.) erased Castleton's spark beating Hollinger with a snapshot for his 11th of the season for a 6-3 lead. Resor added cushion room for Middlebury at 17:19 scoring his second goal of the game. Yanchek made 36 saves, while Hollinger stopped 23 shots.

         The previous night, Middlebury earned a 3-1 road win at Skidmore in the final weekend of NESCAC play. Skidmore got the scoring started when Zack Menard and Alex Mykolenko set up Alex Riccio as he found the back of the net with a slap-shot at the 16:01 mark for a power play goal. Middlebury quickly tied it up when rookie Mathieu Dubuc (Blainville, Que.) took a pass from Clayton in front of the net and scored at the 17:33 mark.

            After a scoreless second period, Clayton beat Thoroughbred goalie Andrew Ross in a 4-on-4 situation to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead 1:58 into the final period. Middlebury killed a penalty late in the third and held onto the lead as Skidmore was able to get five shots on goal but couldn't find a way to beat Yanchek.  Middlebury added an empty net goal from Townsend at the 19:05 mark to take the 3-1 victory.

            The Panthers outshot the Thoroughbreds, 27-25 as both goalies played well throughout the contest with Ross stopping 24 of 26 shots he faced for Skidmore and Yanchek made 25 saves on 26 shots for the Middlebury. The Thoroughbreds finished 1-for-5 on the power play and killed off six penalties as the Panthers finished 0-6.

• Men's hockey record: 16-4-4

• Up next: 2/27 vs. Tufts - 4:00 (NESCAC Quarterfinals)