Women's Hockey Advances to Title Game
March 16, 2007
The Middlebury College women's hockey team advanced to the NCAA Division III championship game for the fourth consecutive year with a 5-1 win over the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point on Friday afternoon at Stafford Arena in Plattsburgh, New York. The Panthers, which improve to 23-3-2, will play Plattsburgh State for the NCAA Division III Championship on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The title game will be a rematch of the 2006 championship that Middlebury won 3-1. UW-Stevens Point falls to 19-7-2 on the season and will play in the third-place game against Amherst at 3:30 p.m.
The three-time defending NCAA champion Panthers never trailed in the game. Karen Levin got Middlebury on the board at the 13:12 mark of the opening period on a power play goal. Levin's 11th goal of the season was assisted by Annmarie Cellino and Shannon Tarrant. The first period ended with UW-Stevens Point holding an 11-8 advantage in shots, but the Panthers held a 1-0 lead.
The second period saw the Panthers strike quickly to go up 2-0 over the Pointers as Ellen Sargent scored just 1:11 into the frame with an assist by Molly Vitt, Alison Graddock. Ten penalties were called after the Sargent goal, six on UW-Stevens Point and four on Middlebury. Neither team could muster a goal with the extra skater during the period.
The Panthers scored another early goal in the third period. This time Vitt and Sargent switched scoring roles as Vitt scored at the 1:25 mark and Sargent assisted to make the score 3-0 in favor of Middlebury. Shortly after the goal, the Panthers were on a power play and Abby Kurtz-Phelan scored with an assist from Levin and Shannon Tarrant to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Pointers got their only goal of the game as Katy Lankey spoiled Middlebury goalie Lani Wright's shutout bid with a shorthanded goal midway through the third period cutting the Panther lead to 4-1. UW-Stevens Point pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker late in the game, but Middlebury stole the puck and scored just eight seconds later as Shannon Sylvester scored an empty net goal with 55 seconds left in the game off an assist from Kurtz-Phelan to end the scoring 5-1.
Wright ended up with 26 saves in the Middlebury net as the first-year goalie improves to 13-2 on the season. Amy Statz had 25 saves for the Pointers. Middlebury held a 31-28 advantage in shots and improved to 3-0 all-time against the Pointers, having also posted a 2-1 win in the 2004 national title game.
-Courtesy Plattsburgh and UW-Stevens Point-