Big Third Quarter Propels Panthers in Regular-Season Finale

A.J. Kucinski led the Panthers with five goals and an assist during Wednesday's win.
A.J. Kucinski led the Panthers with five goals and an assist during Wednesday's win.

Trailing 6-5 at the halftime break, Middlebury outscored Williams by a 9-1 count in Wednesday's third quarter en route to a 19-10 victory over the Ephs (7-8, 4-6) in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Panthers earned the sixth seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will travel to third-seeded Amherst in a quarterfinal game on Saturday.

During a low-scoring opening quarter, Williams held a 1-0 lead before goals from Parker Lawlor and Henry Riehl gave the Panthers a 2-1 edge with 4:26 left. Tallies from Kevin Stump and Jack Lee made it 3-2 in favor of the hosts at the end of the first.

The second quarter saw Williams record two of the first three tallies over the first six minutes sandwiched around an A.J. Kucinski goal for a 5-3 advantage with just over nine minutes left. The Panthers responded with goals from Lawlor and Kucinski wrapped around an Eph tally, as the hosts maintained a narrow 6-5 advantage at the break.

In the decisive third stanza, Middlebury tallied the first eight goals of the quarter. Riehl found the back of the Eph net three times during the spurt, while Kucinski and Matthew O'Neal each had two goals. Danny Jacobs also picked up a pair of assists. Williams' Thomas Fowler stopped the Panther run with a goal at the 3:43 mark, but Jake Schneider scored with 1:26 remaining for a 14-7 Panther edge headed to the fourth.  

Middlebury continued its hot streak in the final quarter, scoring the first three goals of the period by Kucinski, J.P. Miller and John Jackson. Tallies from Williams' Michael Fahey and Ben Fox cut the Panther lead to 17-9 with 4:24 remaining, but Ben Snow and Jake Madnick concluded the scoring for the visitors. Brendan Hoffman tallied for Williams with just over a minute remaining for the 19-10 final.

Kucinski led Middlebury with five goals and an assist, Riehl scored four times, while Lawlor added three tallies. Madnick won 12-13 faceoffs and picked up a team-high nine ground balls, while Jackson went 10-17 at the X with five rollers. Charles Midgley made 10 saves and allowed seven goals in 50:12 of action, while Will Ernst allowed three goals with six saves in the final 9:48.

Fahey's three goals and three assists to go along with three caused turnovers paced Williams, while Fowler finished with two goals and an assist. Riley Hoffman led the Ephs with seven ground balls, while Angus O'Rourke had five. George Peele (7-8) made 15 saves in goal for the hosts.