Seventh-ranked Middlebury moved into a first-place tie in the NESCAC standings, completing a weekend sweep of visiting Colby on Sunday with an 8-1 victory. The Panthers tied Hamilton atop the standings with 19 points and two conference games remaining. Middlebury (14-6-2, 9-4-1) is home again Friday, hosting Williams in Kenyon Arena at 7:00 p.m., while Colby (0-19-3, 0-15-1) hosts Southern Maine on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. for a non-conference contest.
The Panthers came out flying, scoring three times in the initial 7:14 of the contest. Kelly Sherman opened the scoring at the 3:02 mark, when her shot from the left circle hit a body in front and floated over Mule goalie Halley Fine. Just over two minutes later, Maddie Winslow camped out at the left post and lifted a pass from Elizabeth Wulf for a power-play tally. Middlebury made it a three-goal advantage at the 7:14 mark when Janka Hlinka fired a shot from the goal line that Fine stopped, but Lizzie Sheline circled behind the net to collect the rebound at the left post for the goal.
The hosts added to their lead in the middle stanza, scoring four times. Winslow made it 4-0 an even three minutes into the period and Jessica Young added an unassisted shorthanded tally on a breakaway at the 12:03 mark. The goal was her team-leading 12th of the season. Colby's best chance to score came with just over three minutes left in the frame, when Sasha Fritts jumped on a loose puck at the top of the crease. Middlebury goalie Lin Han slid to her right, making a nice pad save.
The Panthers added two late goals in the second period with Winslow completing the hat trick (18:04) and Katherine Jackson (18:19) scoring 15 seconds apart for a 7-0 edge heading into the final period.
The teams traded goals in the last 20 minutes with the Mules scoring at the 3:25 mark. Eleanor Knutzen took a shot from the point that Han stopped, but Katie McLaughlin charged the net to record her fourth goal of the season. The hosts made it an 8-1 final with less than seven minutes showing on the clock on a tap in by Sheline on a short feed from Abby Marmer for her fifth of the season.
Han stopped 14-15 shots for the Panthers to earn the win in goal, while Fine recorded 18 saves (23:00) and Katie Fenton collected 10 (37:00). Middlebury outshot the Mules 36-15 and held the advantage in special teams, going 1-2 on the power play and scoring a shorthanded goal on Colby's lone opportunity.
Winslow and Young each had big weekends, with Winslow recording scoring four goals and adding two assists with both game winners, while Young scored once and dished out four assists.