March 21, 2011

         The Panther women’s hockey team fell 5-2 at host R.I.T. (26-1-2) in the NCAA semifinals on Friday night. The Tigers scored three times in an eight minute span in the second period to open a 3-0 lead.

         Senior Traci Galbraith scored a pair of power-play goals to lead the Tigers, who were 2-for-3 with the man-advantage.  Kourtney Kuncihika added a goal and an assist, while Megan Kobar, and Kolbee McCrea also scored for the Tigers. Ariane Yokoyama and Tenecia Hiller dished out two assists apiece.

            Junior Maggie Melberg (Woody Creek, Colo.) and sophomore Lauren Greer (N. Hampton, N.H.) scored for the Panthers, who out-shot RIT 36-25, including 16-5 in the final period.  The Panthers made a strong third period push, but could not solve RIT goaltender Laura Chamberlain, who was brilliant, stopping 34 shots.

         Down 3-1 in the third period, Greer intercepted a pass at the RIT blue-line, took three strides in and wristed a shot past a screened Chamberlain to cut RIT’s lead to 3-2 with 8:17 left.

            RIT responded just 1:09 later, on the power-play, as Galbraith fired a shot through traffic past senior netminder Alexi Bloom (Highland Park, Ill.), who was screened by Katie Stack and Hiller to make it 4-2.

         Middlebury had a late power-play and pulled Bloom, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.  The Tigers defense held firm, and after the power-play expired, Hiller fed McCrea who slipped behind the Panthers defense and slid a shot into the open cage for her 20th goal of the season.

         The Tigers scored twice in three attempts with the man-advantage, while Middlebury was 1-for-8.

         Neither team scored but had plenty of chances in a quickly played first period in which Middlebury had three power-plays to zero from RIT.

         Stack had a golden chance in the opening moments, getting a rebound at the side of the net after a shot by Hiller stopped by Bloom, but Stack was denied in tight.

         Middlebury had 1:14 of a 5-on-3 power-play, but were unable to get any shots on net due to some great shot blocking by the Tiger penalty-killers. Kristina Moss blocked a pair of shots in tight, one that saved a goal, along with Danielle Read.

         The Tigers came out and dominated the first 14 minutes of the second period, scoring three times.

         Galbraith gave RIT the 1-0 lead on the power-play 4:12 into the period, wristing a shot through traffic off a feed from Sarah Dagg. The point was Dagg’s 154th of her career, giving her sole possession of the career lead at RIT.

         Kobar completed a nice passing play from Hiller and Stack, stuffing in a rebound off her own shot after a tremendous save by Bloom to make it 2-0 at the 8:04 mark.

         Kunichika took a feed from Yokoyama in the slot and fired a shot past a sliding Bloom just inside the right post for her 14th tally of the season at the 12:24 mark.

         Middlebury got one back on the power-play at the 15:18 mark of the period, when Melberg slammed home a rebound after senior Anna McNally (St. Paul, Minn.) was robbed by Chamberlain in front. First-year player Madeline Joyce (Boxborough, Mass.) fed McNally, who looked to have Chamberlain beat, but the goaltender stood firm.  The rebound came right to Melberg who was able to tally.

         That goal seemed to energize Middlebury, as they took control of the rest of the period and most of the final frame.  RIT’s defense stood firm, blocking 27 shots attempted overall.

            First-year player Sarah Ugalde (Burlingame, Conn.) had Middlebury’s best chance of the period, ringing a shot off the left post from the face-off circle. Sophomore Madison Styrbicki (Edina, Minn.) rang a shot that Chamberlain got a piece of and nicked the left post.

         Middlebury defeated the Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties (22-5-3) 5-0 in the 2011 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Third Place game on Saturday afternoon at Ritter Arena in Rochester, N.Y.

         McNally scored two third period goals for the Panthers, while Greer, Ugalde, and Melberg also scored. Bloom turned aside all 30 shots she faced to record her national best 12th shutout of the season. Bloom finishes up her career with a 46-13-6 record, a 1.48 GAA, .929 SV% and 18 shutouts.

         Middlebury scored one in the first, two in the second, and two in the third period for the win. Gustavus Adolphus out-shot Middlebury, 30-21 as Danielle Justice made 16 saves in defeat for the Golden Gusties.

         Greer opened the scoring on the power-play at the 9:38 mark of the first period, ripping a shot from the slot past Justice and under the crossbar for her 14th tally of the season.

         Ugalde made it 2-0 on a penalty shot with 5:08 left in the second period as she came in on Justice and ripped a shot over her blocker.  Just 1:56 later, Melberg converted a rebound.

         McNally tallied twice in the third period, at the 9:21 and 18:42 marks, both off feeds from Melberg. She ends her career with 55 goals and 58 assists for 113 points in 98 games.

         Melberg finished with a goal and two assists for the Panthers.
• Women’s hockey final record: 23-5-1