February 11, 2013

The fifth-ranked Middlebury College women’s hockey team clinched the top seed for the upcoming NESCAC Tournament with a 4-1 road win at Williams on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers will host a quarterfinal game on February 23rd and have earned the right to host the championship weekend on March 2nd and 3rd with a quarterfinal win.

Williams took a 1-0 lead 4:15 into the contest when Cristina Bravi registered an unassisted goal after beating her defender.

Middlebury tied the game 6:22 into the second period when senior Heather Marrison (Brewster, N.Y.) scored to make it 1-1. Her shot from the point made its way through traffic past Eph keeper Chloe Billadeau (45 saves). 

The Panthers made it a 2-1 game with a power play goal at the 13:33 mark. After a face-off win, senior Molly Downey (E. Sandwich, Mass.) found teammate sophomore Katie Sullivan (Bethesda, Md.), who sent a high shot over Billadeau's right shoulder. 

The lead grew to 3-1 at 6:48 of the third when senior Lauren Greer (N. Hampton, N.H.) set up senior Madison Styrbicki (Edina, Minn.) for Middlebury’s second power play goal. 

Looking to slice the Panthers lead in half and create a comeback effort, Williams pulled Billadeau from the net with 1:55 to go. 

However, a shorthanded empty netter from sophomore Emily Fluke (Sandwich, Mass.) at the 18:37 mark put the game out of reach for Williams, making it a 4-1 final.

Middlebury held a 49-32 shots advantage in the game, getting 31 saves from sophomore Annabelle Jones (Homer, N.Y.) to pick up the win.

Middlebury won the first game of the series by the same score (4-1) in Kenyon Arena on Saturday.

After heavy pressure in the first stanza, the Panthers opened the scoring at 13:03 when  Greer tipped home a rebound off a shot by Fluke for her seventh goal of the season. Sophomore Kate Moreau (Bristol, Conn.) started the play on a shot from the point that was redirected by Fluke and then Greer, before hitting the back of the net. Sophomore Hannah Bielawski (Evanston, Ill.) added a power play goal later in the period rapping home a rebound of a shot by Fluke. Greer, who centered the pass to Fluke, also picked up an assist.

Just 1:10 into the second, Middlebury made it 3-0 when junior Madeline Joyce (Boxborough, Mass.) redirected rookie Julia Wardwell’s (Marlborough, Mass.) drive from the point for her fourth of the season.

Middlebury made it a 4-0 game 2:16 into the third period when sophomore Mackenzie Martin (Wilmette, Ill.) broke in all alone and netted her fourth of the year. Williams broke up the shutout at the 7:03 mark when Gabrielle Vukasin circled the net and found Sam Weinstein for a power play goal. The tally was the fifth of the year for Weinstein.

Middlebury held a 35-18 shots advantage in the game, as Jones made 17 saves between the pipes to earn the win. Rachel Nguyen made 31 stops for the Ephs.

Earlier in the week, Courtney Winters scored two goals to lead the offensive effort as Saint Anselm knocked off Middlebury at Thomas F. Sullivan Arena.

After one period of play, the game remained scoreless with Middlebury holding an 11-5 shots advantage.

Saint Anselm broke the 0-0 deadlock when Winters potted her 17th goal of the season just 1:13 into the second period. Andi Foss sent a pass to Winters, in front of the net and she flipped the puck past Middlebury junior goaltender Laura Pinsent (Labrador City Newfoundland).

The Hawks increased their lead at 6:14 when Rosemarie Giarrusso received a centering pass from Kathryn Picarello just outside the crease. Giarrusso shoveled the puck up and into the top of the net as Tiffany Herron earned her second assist of the game.

Middlebury came within one at 2-1 when Sullivan sent the puck past Saint Anselm netminder Lindsey Brown at 8:44 of the final period. Joyce and Bielawski were each credited with assists on the play.

The Hawks took a 3-1 lead when Winters kept a tight hold on the puck, deked Jones and skated around her into the net with the puck for her second goal of the game. Herron and Foss picked up their third and second assists of the night, respectively, on the sequence. 

Brown made 35 saves, while Pinsent and Jones combined for 17. Middlebury held a 36-20 advantage in shots on goal.

• Women’s hockey record: 15-5-2

• Up next: 2/12 vs. Norwich – 7:00, 2/16 @ Elmira – 3:00