Men’s Hockey Needs Overtime in NESCAC Home Games, Goes 1-0-1

Stephen Klein stopped 78 of 81 shots he faced last week during a pair of NESCAC road games for the Panthers.
Stephen Klein stopped 78 of 81 shots he faced last week during a pair of NESCAC road games for the Panthers.

The Middlebury men’s hockey team posted a 1-0-1 NESCAC home record last weekend in Kenyon Arena. Sophomore Vincent Gisonti (Montreal, Que.) scored 2:57 into overtime lifting Middlebury to a 1-0 win Friday over Connecticut College. On Saturday against Tufts, Middlebury went to overtime for the seventh time this season, finishing in a 3-3 tie with the Jumbos. Middlebury senior Brendan McGovern (Centerport, N.Y.) scored with 2:33 remaining to force the extra session.

Scoring chances were hard to come by in Friday’s opening period. Middlebury’s best opportunity came midway through the stanza when a shot by senior Terrance Goguen (Weston, Mass.) from the left circle appeared to hit the net inside the far post but was waived off. The Camels held a narrow 10-9 edge in shots.

The second period again had very few chances and a combined 10 shots on goal. At 11:38, a backhanded wrister by Connecticut College’s William White on the doorstep during a power play was saved by Middlebury sophomore goalie Stephen Klein (Saskatoon, Sask.) with his body. In the final minute of the period, a tip in front by senior Evan Neugold (Goshen, Conn.) for the Panthers on a shot from the point went just wide.

Middlebury looked to go ahead in the early stages of the third, but a shot by rookie Jimmy McKee (Darien, Conn.) from point-blank range was saved by Camel goalie Tom Conlin. With a little less than two minutes left, the hosts nearly grabbed a one-goal edge. Gisonti skated in shorthanded, but his writser on the doorstep was saved by Conlin’s left pad as the Panthers outshot Connecticut College in the period, 13-9.

In the overtime, Gisonti’s game-winning tally happened following a Camel turnover right on their own blueline. Gisonti corralled the loose puck, skated in from the left side and wristed a shot over Conlin’s right shoulder that squeezed its way below the pipe for the goal. The tally was his team-leading seventh goal of the winter.

Middlebury finished the game with a 30-24 shots advantage, as the Panthers went 0-5 on its power play chances, while the Camels were 0-4 during their extra-man opportunities. Klein made 24 saves to pick up the win for his third shutout of the season, while Conlin was credited with 29 stops for the Camels.

On Saturday, David Lackner gave Tufts a 1-0 lead 5:56 into the first period with a power-play goal. Ryan Walter’s shot from the right point was saved by Klein (37 saves) before Lackner put home the rebound for his sixth of the season. The Jumbos held a large shots on goal advantage in the early going, ending the period with a 14-10 lead.

Middlebury evened the game with a similar goal 4:03 into the second session. Sophomore Mark McLellan’s (Surrey, B.C.) shot from the right driving to the net was saved by Mason Pulde (38 saves), before senior Jake Charles (West Vancouver, B.C.) scored on the rebound for this fifth of the year.

The Jumbos regained the lead when Brian Ouellette’s shot from the left point slipped past a screened Klein at the 11:02 mark. The Panthers nearly tied the game with 5:00 left in the second, but junior Mike Najjar’s (Stoneham, Mass.) effort on the doorstep went high into the air before being gloved by Pulde.

Middlebury knotted the game at 2-2 just 3:07 into the third period on the third of the year from Najjar. Neugold sent a pass toward goal that Najjar stopped with his skate before scoring with a backhander.

Tufts responded under four minutes later when Chad Goldberg scored with a backhander in front that trickled across the goal line after a feed from Ouellette. The tally was his fourth of the year.

The Panthers were threatening late, as a shot from Najjar rang the cross bar with 3:00 minutes remaining. Middlebury went on a power play shortly after, with Neugold’s dazzling assist to McGovern resulting in a tie game. Neugold took the puck from Klein and skated the length of the ice, beating several defenders on the four-on-three power play. Skating to the right side, he quickly slid a pass to McGovern, who buried the open opportunity for his fifth of the season to tie the game at 3-3. Senior Paul Falvey (Hingham, Mass.) nearly gave the Panthers the lead moments later, but his breakaway attempt was denied by Pulde.

Neither team had a great opportunity to score in overtime, leaving the contest in a 3-3 tie. The Panthers held a slim 41-40 shots advantage in the game, going 1-6 on the power play, while the Jumbos were 2-2.

• Men’s hockey record: 6-7-5
• Up Next: 2/5 at Wesleyan – 7:00 p.m., 2/6 at Trinity – 4:00 p.m.