#9 Middlebury Shuts Out Wesleyan, 1-0

Panther goalie Julia Neuburger made 20 saves for her second shutout of the season.
Panther goalie Julia Neuburger made 20 saves for her second shutout of the season.

Middlebury goalie Julia Neuburger stopped all 20 shots she faced and Janka Hlinka netted the game's only goal in the first period as the Panthers (11-5-2, 6-4-1) netted a 1-0 shutout on the road Friday at Wesleyan (7-7-4, 4-5-2). The two teams finish their two-game set Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Middlebury opened the scoring at the 9:47 mark of the first period when Hlinka knocked in a rebound. Lizzie Sheline skated out of the left corner and fired a low shot on goal that Cardinal goalie Sam Smith stopped, but the rebound slid to Hlinka at the right post before she tapped the puck in her fourth goal of the season. Sheline's helper extended her modest point streak to three-straight games (3g, 2a).

Wesleyan had a golden chance to tie the game just over five minutes into the second period with a five-on-three power play for 59 seconds. Middlebury's penalty-killing unit was outstanding, erasing both penalties, sparked by a sprawling clear and blocked shot by Elizabeth Wulf. The Panthers did not allow a shot on goal during the disadvantage and generated a scoring chance as well.

Later in the middle stanza, Middlebury had a five-on-three power-play opportunity of its own and pressed for a second goal. Smith made five saves for the Cardinals to keep it a one-goal contest heading into the final 20 minute.

The Panthers nearly added a second goal when Sheline fired a shot on the rush and rebound went to Hlinka, who pushed a shot just wide less than four minutes into the third period. Middlebury's penalty-killing unit was called upon again midway through the period and muted that chance. The hosts tried to pull Smith in the closing minutes and got her to the bench for an extra skater, but were promptly whistled for penalty. That forced the goalie back into the net for the final 1:32 as Middlebury protected the puck to earn the victory.

Neuburger's shutout was her second of the season and Smith finished with 36 saves for Wesleyan as the Panthers held a 37-20 advantage in shots. Both teams came up empty on the power play with Middlebury getting four chances, while the Cardinals had six opportunities. Wesleyan's scoring woes continued as it has been shut out five times in the last seven games and hasn't scored a goal in the last 196:27 of action.

Friday's game also marked the 100th in the career of Panther defender and assistant captain Victoria Laven.