February 21, 2011

            The Panther women’s hockey team saw sophomore Lauren Greer (N. Hampton, N.H.) score a pair of goals as the team rallied from a two-goal deficit to clinch the top seed for the 2011 NESCAC Tournament with a 4-2 win at Bowdoin on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers finish the regular season at 18-4-1 overall (14-1-1 NESCAC) while Bowdoin falls to 14-8-2 (9-6-1). Middlebury will host eighth-seeded Williams at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 26 in the quarterfinals with the right to host the championship if they advance.

            In addition to Greer’s two goals, rookie Jennifer Krakower (Montreal, Que.) and senior Nora Bergman (Concord, Mass.) each contributed a goal for the Panthers. Kayte Holtz had a goal and an assist to lead the Polar Bears.

            Holtz got Bowdoin on the board first with a short-handed tally early in the opening period. The sophomore skated into the offensive zone and ripped a perfect shot from the top of the left circle, beating senior Alexi Bloom (Highland Park, Ill.) high to the glove side at 1:29. The Polar Bears doubled their lead when Jill Campbell received a nice centering pass from Holtz and beat Bloom with a backhand shot to increase Bowdoin’s lead to 2-0 at 18:21.

            In the second period, Middlebury capitalized on a Bowdoin turnover deep in the zone and Greer’s shot beat Connolly glove side at 4:29. Middlebury tied the game on the power-play when Krakower blasted a slap shot from the right point at 17:23, sending the contest into the third period deadlocked at two.

            Middlebury took the lead with 11:06 left in the third as Bergman picked up a loose rebound in front and roofed the puck past Connolly. Middlebury sealed the win at 14:48 as Greer finished off a loose puck in front. Tara Connolly had a strong game between the pipes, making 32 saves for the Polar Bears. Bloom had 18 saves for the Panthers, including eight in the final period.

            Bloom won her 40th career game for Middlebury on Friday as the Panthers picked up a 4-0 road win at Colby. Middlebury scored two goals in the first period and added two more in the third as Bloom stopped 16 shots for the shutout. First-year player Madeline Joyce (Boxborough, Mass.) scored at 13:34 of the first period and Bergman added a second goal for the Panthers about three minutes later. Senior Anna McNally (St. Paul, Minn.) and Greer added third period goals in the win. Brianne Wheeler finished with 40 saves for Colby.

In the first meeting between the two schools in Kenyon Arena, #3 Norwich pulled out a 3-2 victory over #4 Middlebury, ending the Panthers winning streak at eight games on Tuesday night. The victory extends the Cadets (19-3-1) unbeaten streak to 13 games (12-0-1), and 2-0 all-time vs. Middlebury.

            Middlebury had a chance early on with a power play at the 4:41 mark. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Cadets had a pair of golden opportunities shorthanded. After blocking a shot, Sophie Leclerc picked up the puck and broke in alone where Bloom was able to poke-check the puck away. Moments later, Julie Fortier was stopped on another breakaway attempt.

            Norwich broke through at the 13:01 mark when Jillayne DeBus netted her 14th of the year with some nifty moves breaking to the goal. The Panthers had another unsuccessful power play later in the period, as Norwich finished the first 20 minutes with a 10-3 shots advantage.

            Middlebury tied the game 2:58 into the second period, when junior Grace Waters (Snyder, N.Y.) netted her eighth of the year. Krakower made a nice pass across the slot to Waters, who quickly redirected the puck into the net.

            The Panthers took a 2-1 lead at 9:39, with a nice backhanded pass from behind the net by Joyce to an open rookie Sarah Ugalde (Burlingame, Conn.) in the slot. Norwich came back 1:39 later and tied the game when Fortier netted her 17th of the season after a pair of quick moves driving to the crease. The period ended in a 2-2 tie with six shots apiece in the second frame.

            Middlebury appeared to take the lead at the 11:58 mark of the third period, but Ugalde’s goal was waved off after it was ruled the puck was kicked into the net. Just 1:07 later, Norwich netted the game-winner when Melissa Rundlett scored from the slot after a nice feed from the left wing by Renee Lortie.

            Middlebury took a late penalty and was unable to pull Bloom (20 saves) in favor of an extra attacker. Cindy Fortin picked up the win for Norwich, making 11 saves on the night.
• Women’s hockey record: 18-4-1
• Up next: 2/26 vs. Williams – 4:00 (NESCAC Quarterfinals)