The Middlebury men’s hockey team began the 2018 portion of its schedule with a pair of home NESCAC contests in Kenyon Arena. On Saturday evening, Wesleyan scored twice in each period for a 6-1 victory. Third-ranked Trinity scored three goals in the third period en route to a 3-0 win over the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday against Wesleyan, the visitors opened the scoring 6:11 into the initial period with a shorthanded tally. Dylan Holze lifted a shot into the top-right corner of the net from the slot for his team-leading ninth of the season. Wesleyan doubled its lead 1:42 later when Cam McCusker knocked in a rebound on a shot by Walker Harris.
Middlebury trimmed the deficit in half 2:34 into the second stanza, as rookie Alex Heinritz (Fountain Hills, Ariz.) netted his first collegiate goal. Sophomore Danny Tighe (Reading, Mass.) fired a shot from the bottom of the right circle that Cardinal goalie Tim Sestak denied, but the rebound slid to Heinritz at the left post, who deposited the puck into the net. The visitors added two more goals in the period with both of them coming from Vincent Lima. Lima made it 3-1 just 46 seconds after Middlebury scored and added his second tally with 1:07 left in the period, making it a three-goal difference.
The Cardinals increased their lead 2:20 into the final period, as Cameron Peritz’s shot from the left circle went in off the right post to make it a 5-1 game. Middlebury nearly got back on the scoreboard with 8:36 on the clock while on the power play. Heinritz had his shot from close range stopped by Sestak, before senior Vincent Gisonti’s (Montreal, Que.) rebound bid hit off the left pipe. Wesleyan closed out the scoring with 35 seconds left in the contest when Spencer Fox directed in a shot from the left circle.
Middlebury senior Stephen Klein (Saskatoon, Sask.) played 42:40 and finished with 32 saves, while sophomore Brian Ketchabaw (Rye Brook, N.Y.) saw 17:20 of action and made three. Sestak had 28 saves for the Cardinals. Wesleyan held a 41-29 advantage in shots and neither team cashed in on the power play, with Middlebury getting four opportunities and the Cardinals three.
On Sunday, the teams were scoreless through the opening period, with both goalies holding their ground. Klein stopped all 13 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes, including a couple of good chances by the Bantams from around the net during a power play. Trinity’s Alex Morin didn't face the same volume of shots, but was forced to make a couple of key saves, including one in the closing minutes by rookie Charlie Parsons (Weston, Mass.) directly off a faceoff win by Gisonti.
The game remained without a goal in the second period, but two of the best chances came on ensuing possessions. Middlebury sophomore Mitchell Allen (Clifton Park, N.Y.) snuck behind the Bantam defense and his backhander from along the goal line was turned aside by Morin. Trinity quickly transitioned up the ice, and Klein made a nice blocker save on a shot from the right circle by Bradley Buvinow with just over six minutes expired. The Panthers also came close to scoring late in the period, as Heinritz’s attempt through traffic on the left side hit the post.
The visitors scored 28 seconds into the third period, as Griffyn Martin’s shot from the point was blocked in the slot and Dylan Healey swatted in the rebound. Trinity doubled its lead with 9:25 expired when Liam Feeney skated into the Panther zone and circled the net, before Barclay Gammill redirected in a centering pass. Gammill capped the scoring with 1:23 left, netting his second of the game into an empty net.
Klein finished with 39 stops, moving into fourth place on the program’s career list for saves. He currently has 1,741 in three-plus seasons, just behind Pete Brown’s (1965-68) third-place total of 1,744. Morin stopped all 18 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season as the Bantams held a 42-18 advantage in shots. Both teams were empty on the power play, with the Panthers getting three chances and Trinity four.
• Men’s hockey record: 3-9-0
• Up Next: 1/12 vs. Plattsburgh State – 7:00 p.m.