Middlebury's A.J. Kucinski tallied the game-winning goal with 59 seconds left in regulation, as the Panthers came away with as 12-11 road victory Wednesday at Springfield. Middlebury (6-5) returns to NESCAC play Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. contest at Trinity.
The Pride (6-5) notched the first four goals of the game, but the visitors began to chip away. Henry Riehl got the Panthers on the scoreboard with 7:56 left in the opening frame, but the Pride countered on a score by Matt Allen just under three minutes later. Riehl helped Middlebury trim another goal with 2:46 remaining, setting up Chase Goree for a tally.
The Panthers controlled play in the second stanza, recording six of the seven goals. Kucinski made it a 5-3 contest with 1:43 expired, before Allen netted his second of the game for Springfield, putting the difference back to three goals. Middlebury reeled off the final five goals before the half, starting with a rising shot from the right wing by Michael McCormack during a man-up situation. Riehl recorded back-to-back tallies, tying the game (6-6) with 4:34 showing on the clock.
The visitors took their first lead just before the half, as Parker Lawlor used a nice spin move to create a shooting lane and laced a shot past Pride goalie Jack Reynolds. Kucinski made it an 8-6 game 22 seconds shy of the break, scoring from the top of the crease after a feed from Riehl.
In the third quarter, the Panthers extended the lead to 9-6 with a goal in transition off some tic-tac-toe passing that result in Kucinski setting up Riehl for the score. The Pride netted the only other goal in the frame when Duncan Preston tallied with 1:51 on the clock, ending a span of 24:36 by Middlebury's defense of not allowing a goal.
Leading 9-7 heading into the final 15 minutes, the hosts collected three-straight goals to jump back into the lead with 6:48 to play. The Panthers catapulted back in front, scoring twice in 36 seconds. Kucinski picked up the first score and John Jackson sniped the other from the top of the crease on a feed from Lawlor.
Springfield tied the game at 11-11 with 5:09 remaining when Jack Vail tucked a shot into the upper-right corner of the Panther net. Middlebury goalie Charles Midgley started the play that led to the deciding goal with a save and quick outlet pass to set up a successful clear. Kucinski swept in, scooped up a ground ball five yards away from the Pride goal and quickly fired in his fourth goal of the game with just under a minute on the clock. The Panthers won the ensuing faceoff and didn't allow the hosts to get a quality chance to net the equalizer.
Riehl led Middlebury with six points on four goals and two assists, while Kucinski had four goals and one assist. Jake Madnick was stellar on faceoffs, winning 19-25 and led all players with eight ground balls. Eric Rogers finished with three caused turnovers, while Midgley earned the win in the crease with six saves. As a team, Middlebury held a 36-18 advantage in ground balls.
Hurley scored twice and set up two others to lead Springfield's attack, while Preston had two goals and one assist. Matt D'Andrea went 6-24 in the faceoff X and had three ground balls, while Reynolds had 11 saves.