Before a sellout crowd of 2,600 at the Kenyon Arena in Middlebury, the #3 Panthers defeated in-state rival and top-ranked Norwich, 6-2, in the first meeting of the year between the two schools. Middlebury will begin post-season action next weekend in as they host Tufts in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
The Panthers wasted no time in jumping on top as Adam Foote won the opening face-off to Kevin Cooper at the blue line. The senior streaked in all alone and deked Mike Boudreau before sliding one into the lower right side of the net. The game remained at 1-0 until the 13:25 mark when Middlebury was on the power play. Norwich broke the zone, leaving Chris Petracco one-on-one with Middlebury netminder Marc Scheuer. Petracco was pulled down from behind, giving him a penalty shot, which he converted with a shot to the top right corner.
Middlebury took a 2-1 lead 2:33 into the second period as Scott Ward found Cooper breaking away for the shorthanded bid. Cooper lost the puck momentarily before regaining it on the left wing and snapping a shot through the five-hole low to the ice. The Panthers took a 3-1 lead at 6:29 as Brian Phinney slapped home a shot from the right face-off circle after gathering a loose pass from Foote. Middlebury made it a 4-1 game at the 7:55 mark as Patrick Nugent intercepted a pass and ripped it into the back of the net from the right wing. Norwich jumped right back in it as Kurtis McLean scored a shorthanded goal on a rebound after a great save by Scheuer on Mario Chinelli.
Middlebury gained some breathing room at 7:25 of the third period when Foote found Cooper on the goal line before he notched the hat trick. Nugent made it a 6-2 game with 5:13 remaining as he wrested in a shot off the pipe from the far right wing.
Scheuer made 19 saves in goal for Middlebury, while Boudreau made 32 stops for Norwich.
Pairings for the NESCAC Tournament will be announced late Saturday night at www.nescac.com