Men's Hockey Falls To Trinity In NESCAC Title Game - No NCAA Bid

March 9, 2008

The Middlebury men's hockey team fell 3-2 in double overtime to Trinity in the NESCAC Championship game played at Colby. The Panthers were not selected to the NCAA Tournament, ending a 13-year streak, and finish their season at 18-7-2. Middlebury and Trinity are the only two teams to win NESCAC titles since the tournament began, with the Panthers owning seven titles and the Bantams claiming a pair.

The Bantams (15-10-2) came into the conference tournament as the sixth seed and beat seeds one, two, and three to claim their first title since 2003.

Joshua Rich scored 7:07 into the second overtime with assists from Matthew Crum and Riley Hicks. Rich came around the net and his shot was able to sneak past Middlebury goalie Ross Cherry to set off a wild Trinity celebration.

Trinity goalie Wesley Vesprini was up to the task for a second straight day with 33 saves. He made a number of key stops, including two dandy glove saves in the final two minutes of regulation.

Middlebury led twice in the game and took a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the first period when Scott Bartlett ripped a blast by Vesprini after taking a pass while streaking hard up the center of the ice.

Rich got his first goal of the game at 11:56 of the opening period for Trinity. His shot from a bad angle on the right side trickled past Cherry, who had appeared to lose his stick on the play, and went over the goal line.

The Panthers went up 2-1 after the first period when Mason Graddock tallied at 13:16.

Vesprini kept Middlebury off the scoreboard from that point and the Bantams tied the game at 11:20 of the second period when Christopher Powers scored.

Cherry also was strong in the nets with 37 saves for Middlebury.

The Panthers were going after their fifth straight NESCAC title and eighth in nine years, but Trinity's roll in the playoffs continued.

The Bantams took a 4-2 victory at Middlebury in the 2003 title game when they entered as the second seed.

Trinity 3, Middlebury, 2 OT
Trinity 1#1#0#0#1-----3
Middlebury 2#0#0#0#0-----2

1st period
M: Scott Bartlett (Ken Suchoski, Bryan Curran), 7:35
T: Joshua Rich (Christopher Powers, Zachary Wissman), 11:56M: Mason Graddock (Scott Bartlett, Justin Gaines), 13:16 2nd period
T: Christopher Powers, 11:20
2nd overtime
T: Joshua Rich (Matthew Crum, Riley Hicks), 7:07

Shots: Trinity 40, Middlebury 35
Goalies: Ross Cherry (Middlebury, 87:07, 3 GA, 37 saves); Wesley Vesprini (Trinity, 87:07, 2 GA, 33 saves).