Middlebury Looks For Third Straight Title
March 14, 2006
The Middlebury College women's hockey team will makes its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA semifinals when they travel to Plattsburgh this weekend. The Panthers will meet Gustavus Adolphus in the first semifinal on Friday, March 17th, while the host school battles Wisconsin-Stevens point in the second game at 7:00 p.m. The third place game will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, while the national championship game will get underway at 7:00 p.m. This will be the ninth meeting between Middlebury and Gustavus Adolphus, with the Panthers holding an 8-0 advantage, including a 3-0 win over the Gusties on February 3rd. A year ago, the Panthers were 7-3 victors in the NCAA semifinals in Elmira.
Middlebury advanced to the semifinal round after a 4-3 win over Manhattanville in a quarterfinal game last weekend in Kenyon Arena. Gloria Velez scored the game-winner on the power play for Middlebury 16:14 into the third period.
Middlebury earned its way into the tourney by capturing its fourth NESCAC Championship with an 8-2 win over Bowdoin. Emily Quizon and Annmarie Cellino each notched hat tricks in the title game. The Panthers are now 10-2 overall in NESCAC Tournament play.
No stranger to NCAA play, the Panthers are the two-time defending champions, with a record of 7-2 in NCAA play since the tournament's inception in '02. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Middlebury captured the '00 and '01 AWCHA National Championships. Middlebury has an amazing 256-31-9 (.880) record over the past 11 seasons, with head coach Bill Mandigo sporting a 327-86-11 (.784) record in his 18th season at the helm of the program. His 327 wins are more than any other coach in any division in the history of women's college hockey.
The Panthers enter the game with a 25-2 overall record, after going 15-1 in NESCAC play. Middlebury was ranked second in the final national poll and second in the PairWise power rankings. The offense ranks fourth in the nation, scoring 4.52 goals/game, while the defense allows 1.37 goals/game, placing them third among their Division III opponents. The special teams have been impressive, with Middlebury's penalty kill tops nationally at .955 and its power play fourth-best (.254).
Leading the team in scoring this season have been Quizon and Cellino. Quizon, a senior captain, leads the team with 19 assists to go along with her 19 goals and 38 points on the season. She enters the weekend with 107 career assists and 169 points, putting her third and fifth respectively on Middlebury's all-time lists. The senior missed last weekend's quarterfinal game with a knee injury.
Cellino has a team-high 25 goals and 44 points on the season to go along with her 19 assists. The rookie leads the team with eight power play goals (second nationally), while leading the nation with six shorthanded tallies on the season.
Other leading scorers this season for the Panthers have been junior Shannon Sylvester (11-17-28), junior Abby Kurtz-Phelan (13-13-26), rookie Erika Nakamura (15-8-23) and sophomore Karen Levin (5-15-20). Juniors Shannon Tarrant (5-15-20) and Emily McNamara (4-14-18) have been the leaders on defense. Sylvester and Kurtz-Phelan each have five game-winners, tying them for fourth among national leaders.
In goal, senior Kate Kogut is 19-2 on the season with a 1.68 GAA and .911 save percentage. Her GAA is ninth nationally, while her winning percentage (.905) puts her first.
Gustavus Adolphus received an automatic bid to the tourney after capturing the MIAC title with a 2-1 overtime win over St. Thomas. The Gusties (22-3-2) received a first round bye and will be playing their first NCAA Tournament game of '06 against Middlebury. The team has impressive national statistics, scoring 5.63 goals/game (2nd), allowing 1.48 goal/contest (5th), ranking second with a +4.15 scoring margin. Its power play leads the nation at .306, while the penalty kill is third at .943.
Leading the team in scoring are Andrea Peterson (18-29-47), Kelly Crandall (13-33-46), Margaret Dorer (10-27-37) and Molly Doyle (21-15-36). Peterson and Crandall are third and fourth respectively in points/game this season among the nation's leaders. Kitty Hurley has seen a majority of the minutes between the pipes, sporting a 12-3-2 record with a 1.28 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
2006 NCAA Women's Hockey Tournament
Quarterfinals, March 10th-11th
Middlebury 4, Manhattanville 3
Plattsburgh 4, Elmira 1
Wis-Stevens Point 2, Wis.-Superior 0
Semifinals, Friday, March 17th - Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Gustavus Adolphus (22-3-2) vs. Middlebury (25-2) - 3:30 p.m.
Wis.-Stevens Point (20-4-4) vs. Plattsburgh (25-2-1) - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 18th - Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Third Place Game - 3:30 p.m.
NCAA Championship - 7:00 p.m.