February 9, 2010

 The Middlebury College men's hockey team had a busy week with some of the top-ranked teams in the nation at Kenyon Arena. The Panthers won their third straight game as 10th-ranked Middlebury earned a 5-3 victory over #5 Plattsburgh. The win avenges an earlier 3-1 loss to the Cardinals (13-4-4) at the PrimeLink Tournament.

         Middlebury took a 3-0 lead in the first period, with three tallies on four shots on goal. Senior Charlie Townsend (Pennington, N.J.) netted the first at 4:29, redirecting a nice cross-crease pass from sophomore Charlie Strauss (Eagle River, Wis.). Rookie Trevor Pollock (Sunderland, Vt.) scored with a hard wrister at the 13:15 mark from the point, as it deflected off the post and in. The Panthers made it a 3-0 game at 17:30, as junior Ken Suchoski (Bear Creek Township, Pa.) netted his sixth of the season, scoring with a quick snapshot after a drop pass from rookie Mathieu Dubuc (Blainville, Que.).

         Middlebury had a pair of nice chances early in the second period, but sophomore Nick Resor (Westwood, Mass.) and rookie Tom Clayton (New Canaan, Conn.) were denied by Josh Leis, who was in on relief of Williams. Plattsburgh's best chance to score in the game came at the 13-minute mark, as sophomore John Yanchek (Hillsborough, N.J.) made a big save on Greg Fosso from point-blank range. The Cardinals got on the board at 16:57, as Mike Grace scored from the point for a five-on-three power play goal.

         Plattsburgh made it a one-goal game 2:25 into the third period, as Kyle Kudroch poked home a puck just outside the crease after a failed clear. Middlebury answered just over two minutes later, as sophomore Martin Drolet (Lachine, Que.) stole a pass and converted a breakaway on a back hander. The Cardinals followed with two power plays over a 4:20 span, but it remained a 4-2 Middlebury lead. The Panthers padded the lead at 11:16, as Suchoski poked a puck ahead to Townsend, who broke in all alone. Leis poke-checked the puck away from Townsend, as Resor was there to put home the rebound. Ian DeLong scored in a six-on-three situation late to make it a 5-3 final.

         Yanchek (60 min., 24 saves, 3 GA) earned the win in goal for the Panthers, while Ryan Williams (20 mins., 1 save, 3 GA) and Josh Leis (40 min., 17 saves, 2 GA) shared time for Plattsburgh.

         Norwich remained unbeaten on the season at 16-0-4 as the second-ranked Cadets earned a 3-1 win at 10th ranked Middlebury (10-4-4, 6-3-4) on Friday night. The game was played before a crowd of 2,480 in Kenyon Arena, as Norwich held a slim 27-24 shots advantage. Both teams struggled on special teams, as Middlebury went 0/7 and Norwich was 0/5.

         Both teams had some chances early on special teams, with Middlebury going 0/1 and Norwich missing out on two power play opportunities. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead at the 16:22 mark, when Townsend scored his fifth of the year with a wrister from the right side, after an up-pass from sophomore Jak Knelman (Edina, Minn.).

         Middlebury was not able to increase its second period lead, despite having four power play opportunities. Norwich was the team that was able to capitalize, scoring shorthanded with 30 seconds remaining in the period to tie the game at 1-1. Chad Anderson played the puck up to Pier-Oliver Contnoir, who skated across the zone before falling down and scoring with a sweeping motion of his stick.

         Norwich took its first lead of the game at 11:54, with a four-on-four goal. D.J. Fimiani carried the puck in on the left wing, sending a cross-crease pass to Eric Tallent for the quick redirect for his seventh of the year. The Cadets went on a power play shortly after the goal, as a shot from Steve Coon hit the left post.

         Yanchek kept it a one-goal game with a huge save on Norwich's Blake Forkey. The Panthers thought they had tied the game at the 17:12 mark, but a goal was waved off after it was ruled the net had come of its moorings.

         Middlebury went on the power play at 18:32 and pulled Yanchek, but Shawn Baker broke in and scored an empty-netter shorthanded. Yanchek ended the night with 24 saves, while Ryan Klingensmith made 23 to pick up the win for Norwich.

         Middlebury broke open a 2-1 game with three straight goals en route to a 7-2 victory over St. Michael's (4-13-3, 2-10-3). The Panthers outshot the Purple Knights 37-18 in the game, scoring three power play goals.

         St. Michael's jumped out early on the power play, as Dan Evarts scored with a slapper from the high slot just 1:50 in. Middlebury tied the game at 6:10, when Dubuc tipped in a shot sent in from junior Bryan Curran (Wilmette, Ill.) on the power play. The Panthers took a 2-1 lead as Suchoski scored on a rebound at the 12:31 mark of the first period. Middlebury ended the period with a 17-6 shots advantage.

         First-year player Michael Hilgendorf (Alton, Ill.) scored his first career goal 2:11 into the second period, converting a nice feed from Resor. Curran and Drolet added second period goals to give the Panthers a 5-1 lead after two periods.

         Tim Geverd cut the lead to 5-2 with a power play goal for the Purple Knights 1:38 into the third period. Middlebury answered as senior John Sullivan (Delmar, N.Y.) hit Townsend with a great crossing pass for his sixth of the season. Strauss rounded out the scoring with 1:56 left, finishing off a flurry with an assist to Drolet for a 7-2 final. Clayton ended the game with three assists for Middlebury, while Strauss and Townsend had a goal and two assists apiece.

         Senior netminder Max Kennedy (Cazenovia, N.Y.) picked up the win for Middlebury, making 16 saves, while Mike Dizgun made 30 stops for St. Michael's.

• Men's hockey record: 11-4-4

• Up next: 2/9 @ Williams, 2/12 @ UMB, 2/13 @ Babson