The Middlebury men’s hockey team began its season with a pair of road NESCAC contests in Maine. The Panthers erased a one-goal deficit in Friday’s third period against Colby, but the Mules tallied the deciding score 2:11 into overtime for a 2-1 win. Returning to the ice Saturday afternoon, Bowdoin scored four third-period goals, battling back to pick up a 5-3 win over Middlebury in Watson Arena.
On Friday, the Mules had a pair of chances in the opening minute of the game with Kienan Scott getting both of them. Panther junior goalie Stephen Klein (Saskatoon, Sask.) denied each of those bids, with the second coming on a quick one-timer from the left circle.
Middlebury’s best chance in the opening period with just under eight minutes showing no the clock when a shot by sophomore Spencer Cage (Fishers, Ind.) caught a piece of the post with a shot from the right side.
Colby opened the scoring 5:01 into the second period while on the power play. Just after the Panthers had killed off an abbreviated 5-on-3 opportunity, EJ Rauseo jammed in a rebound from the left doorstep for a 1-0 Mule lead.
Middlebury nearly had a chance 30 seconds later as rookie Trevor Turnbull (Hartsdale, N.Y.) raced into the Colby zone looking to gain control of a loose puck. Mule defenseman Jack Burton made a nice diving play to prevent Turnbull from getting off a shot.
The Panthers had another quality opportunity with four minutes left in the middle period when rookie Mitchell Allen (Clifton Park, N.Y.) won the puck along the right boards. After gaining control, he skated toward the net, but Mule goalie Andrew Tucci got a piece of Allen’s rising shot with his left shoulder.
In the third, Middlebury took advantage of a miscue by Tucci as he tried to play the puck behind the net. Following the turnover, Allen centered a pass to Turnbull, who potted his first collegiate goal 3:58 into the period.
The Mules came close to scoring a goal in the final minutes of regulation when Mario Benicky rang a shot off the post.
In overtime, the hosts had several chances before Geoff Sullivan fired a slap shot from the right circle that eluded Klein at the 2:11 mark.
Klein made 28 saves for the Panthers and Tucci had 17 for the Mules as the hosts held a 30-18 edge in shots.
Against the Polar Bears on Saturday, the Panthers capitalized on the game’s first power play 5:17 into the opening period. Senior Travis Stephens (Victoria, B.C.) set up the play with a flat pass across the crease from the right post. Turnbull received the puck on the opposite side and roofed a shot top-shelf for a 1-0 Middlebury lead.
Bowdoin evened the game midway through the period off a power-play goal. Pat Geary circled the back of Middlebury’s net and came around the left side, quickly finding Mitch Barrington between the circles. Barrington teed up a shot and found the top left corner to deadlock the score.
Bowdoin made a bid to take the lead before the end of the frame when Daniel McMullan intercepted a puck on the right boards and rocketed a shot off the far post with 1:40 remaining in the period.
Sophomore Matt Doherty (Milton, Mass.) put Middlebury back on top at 11:42 in the second period. Following a takeaway in the neutral zone, the Panthers skated in on a two-on-one. Doherty capitalized on the advantage and snapped a shot that bested Nathan Colannino.
Rookie Danny Jacobs (Needham, Mass.) extended Middlebury’s lead on a solo effort six minutes into the final period. Jacobs picked the pocket of a Bowdoin player near the blue line and skated into the Polar Bear defensive zone. Jacobs slipped a shot five-hole to tally his first collegiate goal, giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead with 14:24 remaining.
The Polar Bears responded 1:04 later. Cody Todesco slid a pass from the right pipe towards Austin Ricci on the opposite side. With Panther rookie goalie Brian Ketchabaw (Rye Brook, N.Y.) still lined up for a Todesco bid, Ricci had an open look on the far side, trimming the Middlebury lead to 3-2.
Geary scored his third goal of the weekend to even the game with just over five minutes to play. Chris Wallace fed Geary from the left side and the first-year forward tallied a back door equalizer.
Bowdoin took the lead 3:14 later when Cody Todesco won a face-off in the Middlebury zone back to Austin Ricci, who beat Ketchabaw glove-side to make it 4-3 Polar Bears with 2:36 to play.
After Middlebury pulled Ketchabaw for the extra attacker, Bowdoin put the game on ice as Chris Wallace added an empty-netter to round out the scoring.
Colannino earned his first collegiate win in goal for the Polar Bears, making 20 stops. Ketchabaw finished with 28 saves for Middlebury.
Bowdoin held a 33-22 edge in shots and went 1-5 on the power play while Middlebury went 1-4 with the extra attacker.
• Men’s hockey record: 0-2-0
• Up Next: 11/25 vs. Norwich – 4:00 p.m. (PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout hosted by Plattsburgh State), 11/26 – Consolation Game/Championship Game – 4:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.