Men's Hockey Prepares To Defend Title

March 14, 2006

Middlebury will make its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals and its 10th in the last 12 years when they travel to Elmira, New York this weekend. The games will be played at the pre-determined site of First Arena (4,000) in Elmira. Hobart will take on St. Norbert in the first semifinal at 12:30 p.m., while Middlebury battles Elmira at 4:00 p.m. The NCAA Championship game is slated for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday, and will televised live on CSTV (College Sports Television). This will be the fifth meeting between Middlebury and Elmira, with the Panthers holding a 3-1 advantage, including a 5-1 win in the '03 NCAA quarterfinals.

Middlebury advanced to the semifinals after a 3-1 win over UMass.-Dartmouth in a quarterfinal game last Saturday. Eric LaFreniere scored a pair of goals, while John Sales dished out three assists in the win. Ross Cherry was impressive in goal, making 21 saves on the night.

Middlebury earned its way into the tourney by capturing its sixth NESCAC Championship with a 3-1 win over Bowdoin. Mickey Gilchrist scored a pair of goals in the game as the Panthers moved to 17-1 overall in NESCAC Tournament play.

The Panthers enter the semifinals with more NCAA wins than any other school in Division III hockey. Middlebury sports a 29-5-2 mark, having won each of the last two NCAA Championships. The Panthers have seven overall titles, including an NCAA record five consecutive crowns from '95-'99. The team has a cumulative record of 281-39-19 (.857) over the past 12 years. Head coach Bill Beaney is now in his 19th season, with more wins (465-181-32 - 26 seasons overall) than any other coach in Division III men's college hockey history. Earlier this season, Middlebury earned a 28-game unbeaten streak, second longest in school history.

The Panthers enter the game with a 24-2-2 overall record, after going 16-2-1 in NESCAC play. Middlebury was ranked first in the final national poll and the PairWise power rankings. Middlebury's defense is tops in the nation, allowing just 1.54 goals/game on the season, while the offense is seventh with 4.71 goals/contest. The power play is ranked sixth at .258, while the penalty kill is 12th (.859).

After three goals in his first 11 games, sophomore Mickey Gilchrist has scored 20 in his last 17 to lead the team, and ranks sixth nationally with .82 goals/game this season. He has 23 goals and 24 assists for 47 points to go along with his team-leading nine power play and five game-winning goals (2nd nationally).

Rookie Jamie McKenna has enjoyed an impressive year offensively with 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points on the season. Juniors Evgeny Saidachev (13-15-28) and Eric LaFreniere (11-14-25), along with sophomore Robert MacIntyre (2-21-23), junior John Sales (6-15-21) and sophomore Tom Maldonado (6-14-20) round out the leading scorers. Senior Jeff Smith has anchored the blue line this season, while adding five goals and eight assists for 13 points on the year.

In goal, sophomore Ross Cherry and rookie Doug Raeder split time during the regular season. Cherry has been between the pipes in the post-season, starting all four games. The sophomore is now 10-0 in post-season play with a 0.90 GAA over the past two seasons. This season, Cherry is 13-1-1 with a nation's-best 1.40 GAA and a .930 save percentage, fifth nationally. Raeder sports a 9-1-1 record with a 1.73 GAA (4th nationally) and a .926 save percentage (6th nationally).

Elmira advanced to the NCAA semifinals after earning a 2-1 double overtime win at Manhattanville on Saturday. Justin Joy scored with 1.8 seconds left in regulation and then 11:37 into the second overtime to lift the Soaring Eagles to the win. This is the team's sixth trip to the NCAA semifinals and 12th trip overall, as they sport an 18-8-2 record. They earned their right into the tournament after receiving an at-large bid following a pair of wins over Hobart and Utica to win the ECAC West Championship. Joy leads the team in scoring (14-19-33), followed by Michael Richard (16-13-29), Nicolas Dumoulin (13-10-23), Brandon Rose (5-18-23) and Tyler Cann (5-16-21). In goal, Greg Fargo is 16-3-2 with a 2.04 GAA and a .926 save percentage (both 7th nationally).

2006 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament
First-Round, Wednesday, March 8th
Wis.-Superior* 2, St. Olaf 1
UMass.-Dartmouth 8, Geneseo* 2

Quarterfinals, Saturday, March 11th
Middlebury 3*, UMass.-Dartmouth 1
Elmira 2, Manhattanville* 1 (2OT)
St. Norbert* 8, Wis.-Superior 2
Hobart 3, Norwich* 1
*=host team

Semifinals, Saturday, March 18th - First Arena - Elmira, N.Y.
Hobart (20-7) vs. St. Norbert (24-4-2) - 12:30 p.m.
Elmira (18-8-2) vs. Middlebury (24-2-2) - 4:00 p.m.

NCAA Championship, Sunday, March 19th - First Arena -Elmira, N.Y.
Gametime - 2:00 (broadcast live on CSTV)