Middlebury improved to 23-5-2 in NCAA Tournament play as they topped Wentworth 9-1 in an NCAA Quarterfinal game. The Panthers will make their seventh final four appearance in the last 10 years on Friday against Norwich at Norwich. Gametime is 7:00, while St. Norbert will meet Plattsburgh at 3:30 in the other semifinal. Kevin Cooper paced the Panther offense with three goals and two assists on the night.
Middlebury jumped out early with a goal just 45 seconds into the contest. Jeff Smith made a crossing pass through the slot to Evgeny Saidachev who snapped a shot into the net. The Panthers made it 2-0 at 14:59 as Darwin Hunt gathered the puck from the backboards and scored on a wrap-around. Middlebury took a 3-0 lead on a bizarre goal as Kevin Cooper was streaking to the net on a breakaway. Middlebury's leading scorer could not get a shot off as he poked the puck towards the goal where it deflected off Wentworth netminder Raj Bhangoo and into the net.
The Panthers scored another three goals in the second period starting at the 13:17 mark. Cooper broke in on the right wing before making a crossing pass to Adam Foote who one-timed it into the net. The lead increased to 5-0 at 18:05 as Cooper caught a puck, dropped it to his stick and converted the breakaway as he broke in from the blue line. Just 29 seconds later, Patrick Nugent one-timed a pass from John Dawson from the right face-off circle to make it a 6-0 game after two periods.
Just 2:02 into the third period, the Panthers struck again as Brian Phinney one-timed a pass from Cooper to make it a 7-0 game. Wentworth got on the board at 11:03 as Blayne Goodman put home a rebound from the slot after a save from Marc Scheuer. Middlebury answered at 12:17 as Cooper converted the breakaway for his third goal of the night. Nugent added his second of the night for the game's final tally.
Scheuer made 17 saves on the night, while Bhangoo and Bryce McFadden combined to make 43 stops for the Leopards.