The Middlebury men’s hockey team posted a pair of impressive wins over top-three opponents last weekend. The Panthers earned a 3-1 road victory Friday evening over third-ranked Plattsburgh State. Returning home to Kenyon Arena a day later, Middlebury gained control early and never looked back in a 3-0 blanking of #2 Norwich.
In Friday’s game at the 8:49 mark of the opening period, Middlebury took a 1-0 lead when junior Ronald Fishman (Roslyn, N.Y.) would bury a power-play goal into the back of the net. Fishman tapped in a cross-ice pace from junior Max Greenwald (Potomac, Md.) who slid the pass across from the bottom of the left circle after a pass off the stick of senior George Ordway (Long Lake, Minn.).
In the second, the Panthers would add to their lead at 5:12 when sophomore Cameron Romoff (Montreal, Que.) found the back of the net on a wrister that beat Cardinals goalie Brady Rouleau. Romoff collected a pass at the right circle from junior Evan Neugold (Goshen, Conn.) who slung the puck from the left corner board across the ice.
Plattsburgh State answered eleven seconds later and sliced the deficit in half when Rich Botting fired a slap shot from the left point that trickled between Panther rookie goaltender Stephen Klein's (Saskatoon, Sask.) pads. Plattsburgh State's Matt Quilty jammed the loose puck into the back of the net.
Headed to the final period, the Panthers provided the dagger at 11:11 as Ordway sniped one over the glove of Rouleau short-handed.
Middlebury possessed a narrow 22-20 advantage in shots for the game. Rouleau finished the night with 19 saves, while Klein also recorded 19 stops.
On Saturday, Middlebury’s win was the first for the Panthers over the Cadets in nine games, dating back to a two-game sweep during the 2008-09 season.
Norwich had a good look just 30 seconds into the game, but Dean Niezgoda's shot from down low hit the pipe. Middlebury answered the opportunity and cashed in just 1:08 into the game with the third of the year from Ordway. Sophomore Mike Najjar (Stoneham, Mass.) came from behind the net and found Ordway at the left circle for a quick one-timer.
Middlebury looked to make it a 2-0 game at the 8:02 mark, but Neugold was denied breaking in all alone by a great stop from Braeden Ostepchuk (17 saves). Less than a minute later, he made another nice stop on Fishman to keep it a 1-0 game.
The Panthers increased their lead at the 14:44 mark when junior Brendan McGovern (Centerport, N.Y.) gathered a puck that squirted to the slot area. He quickly skated to his left and snapped a shot to the right to beat Ostepchuk for his second goal of the season. The Panthers took a 2-0 lead into the locker room, outshooting the Cadets 11-5 in the first 20 minutes.
Each team failed on a power play opportunity in the second period before Middlebury made it a 3-0 game. Junior Zach Haggerty (Stowe, Vt.) forced a turnover and quickly skated toward the goal where he found sophomore Greg Conrad (Peabody, Mass.) for a quick redirect, earning his second of the year.
Norwich ended the period with a power play that extended into the third period, but was unable to get on the board. The Cadets held an 8-5 shots advantage in the second period.
Middlebury had a couple of chances to gain some breathing room in the third period, but could not capitalize on a pair of man-advantages.
Norwich went on the power play at the 17:07 mark and pulled Ostepchuk for the extra attacker. The Cadets had a golden opportunity when William Pelletier was denied from the slot before Klein made a sprawling save on Tyler Piacentini, who was falling to the ice. He again came up big later on the power play to keep the Cadets off the board as he earned his first career shutout with stellar play and 25 saves. The shutout was the first for Middlebury over Norwich since 1991-92. The Panthers hold an 80-61-8 all-time series advantage.
• Men’s hockey record: 6-6-2
• Up next: 1/23 vs. Bowdoin – 7:00, 1/24 vs. Colby – 3:00