February 7, 2011

The Panther men’s hockey team lost for just the second time in its last dozen games as the Panthers fell at #12 Plattsburgh 2-1 in non-league action on Tuesday night.

         Plattsburgh took a 1-0 lead just 2:08 into the game with a power play goal from Ryan Cory. The Cardinals struck on the power play again at the 11:51 mark, with a tally from Vick Schlueter. Middlebury junior Charlie Strauss (Eagle River, Wis.) scored the third power play goal of the period at 14:48, with junior Martin Drolet (Montreal, Quebec) picking up the assist.

            Plattsburgh held its 2-1 lead through the second and third periods, coming away with the win. Middlebury held a slight 28-27 edge in shots, with rookie Nick BonDurant (Macedon, N.Y.) making 25 saves in goal.  Josh Leis made 27 stops to earn the win for Plattsburgh.

            Middlebury moved to 7-2-4 in its last 13 games, earning a 4-4 road tie at Norwich on Friday night.  The teams added another chapter to their historic rivalry in front of a sold-out crowd at Kreitzberg Arena. The two in-state arch-rivals battled to a 4-4 tie after Middlebury rookie Ben Wiggins (Cambridge, Mass.) leveled the score at four with 6:42 remaining by banging home a loose rebound in a scrum around the Norwich net.

            Norwich sophomore forward Kyle Thomas saved his best game of the season to date, scoring three goals for his first hat trick of the season to lead the NU offense.

         Thomas opened the scoring at the 12:06 mark of the first period when he took a pass from Greg Eskedjian at center ice. Thomas turned on the after-burners to skate by a Middlebury forward and then split both defensemen. He skated in from the left circle and across the top of the crease before sliding the puck in far post to beat Middlebury junior John Yanchek (Hillsborough, N.J.).

            Middlebury evened the score at one a little over five minutes later when Charlie Strauss tipped a shot from first-year player Michael Longo (Morristown, N.J.) at the point past Norwich goaltender Parker Carroll for a power play goal.

         Middlebury’s rookie J.D. Vermette (Boucherville, Que.) took control of the game in the second period with two goals just 38 seconds apart in the first five minutes of the period.

            Strauss hit Vermette in stride at the Norwich blue line with a tape-to-tape pass that sprung Vermette on a breakaway. Vermette waited out Carroll and then beat the Norwich goaltender high and glove side to give Middlebury its first lead of the game at 2-1.

            The Panthers stretched the lead to 3-1 when Vermette let go of a soft wrist shot from the top of the right circle that found its way past Carroll after he was screened by a player cutting into the slot.

            Later Emmond Bell won a battle along the boards and found Thomas alone in the center of the ice at the Norwich blue line. Thomas took a few strides and then unleashed a wrist shot that beat Yanchek low to the right side to cut the deficit to 3-2.

            Thomas completed his hat trick with 1:04 remaining in the second period when he laid out with a Middlebury defender draped all over him and jammed a one-time pass from Chad Anderson in the slot at the top of the crease past Yanchek to tie the game up at three. The goal was on the power play and it was his team-leading fifth of the season.

            Scott Schroeder gave Norwich the lead once again with his team-leading 12th goal of the season just 3:41 into the third period off a drop pass from Anderson.

            Neither side was able to come up with the game-clinching goal in a thrilling five-minute overtime that featured constant end-to-end action with multiple chances by both sides to win it. Middlebury had the best chance off an odd-man rush, but Carroll stood tall making two point-blank leg saves to preserve the tie.

            Yanchek made 20 saves for Middlebury and Carroll turned aside 22 shots for Norwich as the freshman stayed undefeated on the season and is now 5-0-2.

            Middlebury scored a pair of unanswered third period goals on its way to a 5-3 road win at St. Michael’s at Cairns Arena on Saturday. Drolet scored twice, including the game-winner, and for Saint Michael’s, sophomore Brady Earle had a goal and an assist in the loss.

            The Panthers marched out to a 3-1 first period lead and controlled the pressure with multiple breakaway chances. Wiggins cracked the scoreboard just two minutes into the game on a breakaway, using a quick left-to-right move to draw Saint Michael’s sophomore goalie Mike Dizgun out of position. Strauss tacked on the second goal on another breakaway, this time in the middle of a Purple Knights line switch.

            Saint Michael’s got one back in the 14th minute with a goal by senior Matt Rigtrup, who juked to center ice and fired a wrist shot through a screen and into the net. Middlebury would add one more before the period ended, however, as Drolet buried a third-chance rebound with just over a minute to play.

            The Purple Knights fought to a tie game in the second period, using goals from junior Earle and sophomore Alex Davidson to knot the contest at 3-3. Just 21 seconds after the puck dropped, Earle found himself camped in the kill zone and swept a speedy shot to the top shelf to bring Saint Michael’s within one. Then in the 15th minute, Davidson gathered a pass from senior Alex Higgins at the red line and scored.

            Middlebury found new life in the final frame, and Drolet dashed out of the gate to open the final period, scoring off the initial faceoff and reclaiming the lead just eight seconds after the puck dropped. Sophomore Mathieu Dubuc (Blainville, Que.) added an insurance goal in the 12th minute with a slap shot from a stride inside the blue line that clipped a Saint Michael’s jersey on its way into the net.

            Dizgun battled his way to 37 saves for Saint Michael’s, and BonDurant earned the win while making three saves and allowing no goals in 25 minutes of play.
• Men’s hockey record: 9-6-4
• Up next: 2/8 vs. Williams – 7:00, 2/11 vs. UMB – 7:00, 2/12 vs. Babson – 4:00