Women's Hockey Heads To Frozen Four

March 14, 2011

The Middlebury College women’s hockey team will make its sixth appearance in the NCAA frozen four this weekend at R.I.T.  Norwich (23-4-1) will meet Gustavus Adolphus (22-3-3) in the first semifinal on Friday, March 18, at 3:30 p.m., while the Panthers (22-4-1) will battle R.I.T. (25-1-2) in the second contest at 7 p.m. The winners meet on Saturday, March 19, at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Championship game. For tickets, call (585) 475-4121.

Middlebury is making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance (sixth in the frozen four), having previously qualified from (’02-’09). The Panthers have won more tournament games (13-5) and have a higher winning percentage (.722) than any other team in NCAA Tournament history. Middlebury won three straight titles from ’04-’06, advancing to the finals in ’07. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Middlebury captured the ’00 and ’01 AWCHA National Championship tournaments.

Middlebury earned its way into the tournament with an automatic bid after capturing its sixth NESCAC Championship. After splitting a pair of regular season games with Amherst, the Panthers held on for a 4-3 win over the Jeffs, the two-time defending NCAA champions, in Kenyon Arena. Middlebury received a goal and an assist from NESCAC Player of the Week Heather Marrison and Madeline Joyce in the win. Alexi Bloom made 22 saves in goal to pick up the victory.

Middlebury has amassed an amazing 349-59-22 (.837) record over the past 16 seasons. The Panthers have boasted some impressive streaks in that time, including a 136-game Division III unbeaten streak (ended 1/26/02 with loss at Manhattanville) and an 85-game home winning streak (ended 3/1/02 with loss to Williams).

Middlebury opened the season with six straight wins to finish the first semester undefeated. The new year started rough with a pair of losses to Elmira and Plattsburgh at the Panther/Cardinal Classic after a month with no games. Middlebury went 2-2-2 in their first six games of ’11, before going on a tear with 12 wins in its final 13 games of the season.

Middlebury is among the nation’s leaders in many categories, including goals against average (third-1.04 GAA) and scoring offense (3.44-eighth). The Panthers are sixth in scoring margin (+2.41), fifth in power play (.238), fifth in winning percentage (.833) and sixth in penalty kill (.907).

Middlebury’s offense has been well-balanced this season, with a dozen players with 10 or more points and six with 20+ points. Sophomore Lauren Greer leads the team in points with 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points. She also paces the team with six power play goals. First-year player Sara Ugalde (12-9-21) owns four power play goals, while sophomore Heather Marrison (5-16-21) has three. Sophomore Madison Styrbicki (4-17-21), senior Julia Ireland (12-8-20) and junior Grace Waters (9-11-20) round out the team’s scoring leaders.

In goal, senior Alexi Bloom has been stellar, ranking in the top five nationally in every category. Bloom leads the nation with 11 shutouts, ranks second with a .950 SV% and is third with a 1.02 GAA. She is also fourth in winning percentage (.848) with a 19-3-1 record. Bloom and Styrbicki recently earned first-team All-NESCAC honors, while Ireland was named to the second-team.

Head Coach Bill Mandigo is now in his 23rd season at the helm of the Panthers. He has a career record of 429 wins, 109 losses, and 24 ties, giving him more wins than any other coach in any division in the history of women’s college hockey. After leading his team to its first ECAC Championship in '96, Mandigo was named the ECAC Coach of the Year. In 2001, Mandigo was again honored as the ECAC Coach of the Year, as well as the AHCA National Coach of the Year. In ’04 and '05, Mandigo was again named the AHCA National Coach of the Year. Since then, he’s led the team to five more ECAC titles, five national titles and four NESCAC crowns. He was recently named the NESCAC Coach of the Year for the second time.

2011 NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Frozen Four
Semifinals, Friday, March 18 – R.I.T.
Norwich (23-4-1) vs. Gustavus Adolphus (22-3-3) - 3:30 p.m.
Middlebury (22-4-1) vs. R.I.T. (25-1-2) – 7 p.m.

Championship, Saturday, March 19 – R.I.T.
Third-Place game – 3:30 p.m.
NCAA Championship – 7 p.m.