Women's Hockey Topped By R.I.T. In NCAA Semi's

March 18, 2011

The Middlebury College women’s hockey team fell 5-2 at host R.I.T. (26-1-2) in the NCAA semifinals on Friday night. The Panthers (22-5-1), will take on Gustavus Adolphus, a 5-4 loser vs. Norwich, in the third-place game on Saturday at 3:30. The Tigers scored three times in an eight minute span in the second period to open a 3-0 lead.

Senior Traci Galbraith scored a pair of power-play goals to lead the Tigers, who were 2-for-3 with the man-advantage.  Kourtney Kuncihika added a goal and an assist, while Megan Kobar, and Kolbee McCrea also scored for the Tigers. Ariane Yokoyama and Tenecia Hiller dished out two assists apiece.

Maggie Melberg and Lauren Greer scored for the Panthers, who out-shot RIT 36-25, including 16-5 in the final period.  The Panthers made a strong third period push, but could not solve RIT goaltender Laura Chamberlain, who was brilliant, stopping 34 shots.

Down 3-1 in the third period, Greer intercepted a pass at the RIT blue-line, took three strides in and wristed a shot past a screened Chamberlain to cut RIT’s lead to 3-2 with 8:17 left.

RIT responded just 1:09 later, on the power-play, as Galbraith fired a shot through traffic past Alexi Bloom, who was screened by #Katie Stack# and Hiller to make it 4-2.

Middlebury had a late power-play and pulled Bloom, giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.  The Tigers defense held firm, and after the power-play expired, Hiller fed McCrea who slipped behind the Panthers defense and slid a shot into the open cage for her 20th goal of the season.

The Tigers scored twice in three attempts with the man-advantage, while Middlebury was 1-for-8.

Neither team scored but had plenty of chances in a quickly played first period in which Middlebury had three power-plays to zero from RIT.

Stack had a golden chance in the opening moments, getting a rebound at the side of the net after a shot by Hiller stopped by Bloom, but Stack was denied in tight.

Middlebury had 1:14 of a 5-on-3 power-play, but were unable to get any shots on net due to some great shot blocking by the Tiger penalty-killers. Kristina Moss blocked a pair of shots in tight, one that saved a goal, along with Danielle Read.

The Tigers came out and dominated the first 14 minutes of the second period, scoring three times.

Galbraith gave RIT the 1-0 lead on the power-play 4:12 into the period, wristing a shot through traffic off a feed from Sarah Dagg.  The point was Dagg’s 154th of her career, giving her sole possession of the career lead at RIT.

Kobar completed a nice passing play from Hiller and Stack, stuffing in a rebound off her own shot after a tremendous save by Bloom to make it 2-0 at the 8:04 mark.

Kunichika took a feed from Yokoyama in the slot and fired a shot past a sliding Bloom just inside the right post for her 14th tally of the season at the 12:24 mark.

Middlebury got one back on the power-play at the 15:18 mark of the period, when Melberg slammed home a rebound after McNally was robbed by Chamberlain in front.  Madeline Joyce fed McNally, who looked to have Chamberlain beat, but the goaltender stood firm.   The rebound came right to Melberg who was able to tally.

That goal seemed to energize Middlebury, as they took control of the rest of the period and most of the final frame.  RIT’s defense stood firm, blocking 27 shots attempted overall.

Sara Ugalde had Middlebury’s best chance of the period, ringing a shot off the left post from the face-off circle. Madison Styrbicki rang a shot that Chamberlain got a piece of and nicked the left post.

Middlebury holds an 11-3 lead in the all-time series.  RIT has won the last two meetings between the two squads.

Panthers Head Coach Bill Mandigo thought Chamberlain stole the show for RIT. “I thought it was a good game,” said Mandigo.  “Both teams played very hard, but the difference was Chamberlain.  She was outstanding.  It was a battle of the two best goalies in the nation. RIT has three number-one lines, lots of people who can dangle and hang in there offensively.”

Box score