Middlebury became the first team in NESCAC history to win three-straight women's hockey championships, as the Panthers posted a 2-0 shutout over visiting Amherst on Sunday. In addition to its 10th overall conference championship, Middlebury (20-4-3) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament field will be announced on Monday. Third-seeded Amherst falls to 16-7-4.
The Mammoths had a pair of quality chances in the opening minutes, but both scoring bids were denied by Lin Han. The Panther goalie made a sparkling glove save on a shot by Alex Toupal from the left circle following an Amherst faceoff win, less than two minutes into the contest. Just over a minute later, Han thwarted Emma Griese on the rush sliding to her left to make the save.
Middlebury generated back-to-back chances in the latter stages of the period, as Jenna Marotta's shot from the right point got through traffic, but was blocked by Mammoth goalie Bailey Plaman. Maddie Winslow made a diving stab at the rebound, but Plaman held her ground for the save.
The hosts opened their scoring at the 8:56 mark of the second period on a play that started just outside the Amherst blue line. Madie Leidt created a turnover and Jessica Young quickly took over possession of the puck. The Panther carried the puck into the right circle and fired a laser past Plaman's left shoulder for a 1-0 lead. Han made that score hold through the rest of the period, making another flashy glove save in the final minutes against Jocelyn Hunyadi.
Middlebury muted Amherst's only power play of the game in the opening minutes of the final frame without allowing a shot on goal. The Panthers doubled the advantage with 8:55 on the clock, scoring four seconds after their lone power play had expired. Haley LaFontaine took a shot from the point that Elizabeth Wulf redirected behind Plaman.
The Mammoths pulled Plaman for an extra attacker for the final 2:03 of the contest, but were unable to spoil the shutout, as the hosts posted the 2-0 win.
Han stopped all 23 shots she faced for her seventh shutout of the season. She was nearly perfect in the conference tournament, going 3-0 with two shutouts, a 0.33 GAA and turned away 47-48 shots she faced. Plaman finished with 29 saves, as the Panthers held a 31-23 edge in shots.