Middlebury will make its fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals after a 3-1 win over UMass.-Dartmouth in an NCAA quarterfinal game in Kenyon Arena. The Panthers are now 29-5-2 overall in NCAA play since joining the tourney in '95. The Panthers will take on Elmira, a 2-1 2OT winner over Manhattanville, in a semifinal game on Saturday at 4:00 in Elmira. Hobart, a 3-1 winner over Norwich, will take on St. Nobert, an 8-2 winner over Wis.-Superior, in the first semifinal at 12:30.
UMass.-Dartmouth had the best chance to score early as Jeff Grant's shot bounced high into the air before being cleared. Grant quickly picked up the puck and was stopped twice from point-blank range by Middlebury goaltender Ross Cherry. Middlebury opened the scoring at 10:33 with a power play goal from Eric LaFreniere. After a rebound, Brett Shirreffs quickly slid a pass across the slot to LaFreniere, who snapped a quick shot into the net. Paul Garabedian had a great chance to answer for the Corsairs at 12:30, but after his shot trickled through Cherry, the Middlebury netminder reached back and swiped the puck off the goal line. UMD had a 39 second power play late in the period, but could not score the equalizer.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead 54 seconds into the second period as Jamie McKenna skated down the right side before beating Jon Dryjowicz-Burek with a snapper to the short side. Mickey Gilchrist had a chance to make it a 3-0 game at 16:20, but he was denied by a glove save. Middlebury ended the period with a 13-6 shots advantage.
The third period saw both teams with some excellent chances early. John Sales was denied at 3:15, while Mickey Gilchrist snapped a shot off the pipe just 45 seconds later. The Panthers broke through at 9:49 as LaFreniere, Sales and Shirreffs connected on their second power play goal of the game. Sales gained some room on the goal line before quickly sliding a pass across the crease to LaFreniere who finished. UMass.-Dartmouth broke up the shutout with 1:37 left in the game as Eric Frank slid a pass across the crease to Kyle McCullough, who roofed a shot falling to the ice for a power play goal. The Corsairs pulled their goaltender with one minute to go, but could not score with the man-advantage as Middlebury hung on for the 3-1 win.
Cherry was impressive in net, making 21 saves on the night to lower his career GAA to 0.90 in post-season play (10 games). Dryjowicz-Burek ended the night with 28 saves for UMass.-Dartmouth, who ends its season at 25-4.
Date: March 11, 2006 - 7:00 p.m
Venue: Kenyon Arena - Site: Middlebury, Vt.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
UMass.-Dart. (25-5) 0 0 1 - 1
Middlebury (24-2-2) 1 1 1 - 3
M-1st (10:33) - PP: Eric LaFreniere (John Sales, Brett Shirreffs)
M-2nd (:54) - Jamie McKenna (Sales, Tom Maldonado)
M-3rd (9:49) - PP: LaFreniere (Sales, Shirreffs)
D-3rd (18:23) - PP: Kyle McCullough (Eric Frank, Jeff Grant)
Ross Cherry-M (60 min., 21 saves, 1 GA)
Jon Dryjowicz-Burek-UMD (59 min., 28 saves, 1 GA)