Men's Hockey Wins Seventh NCAA Title

Men's Hockey Wins Seventh NCAA Title

Middlebury won its seventh NCAA Championship as they defeated St. Thomas, 5-0. The shutout is the fourth for the Panthers in the NCAA Championship games, and improves them to 7-0 in title games. Middlebury is now 28-5-2 in NCAA Tournament play, boasting more wins than any other team in NCAA history. The NCAA title is the 24th (women's hockey won 23rd earlier in the night) for Middlebury College over the past 10 years. The Panthers end the season at 23-4-3, while the Tommies finish at 20-6-5.

St. Thomas threatened early as Colin Greenlees had a breakaway, but was denied by a sprawling Ross Cherry at the 1:30 mark. Each team killed a pair of power plays before Middlebury broke on the board at the 9:25 mark. Eric LaFreniere circled around the back of the net before finding Mickey Gilchrist, who snapped a shot high into the net. The Tommies had a five-on-three power play opportunity for 1:15 at the 12:25 mark, but could not net the equalizer. Middlebury took advantage of a power play of its own at 16:42 to increase their lead to 2-0. John Sales took a shot from center ice just in front of the blue line, the shot was blocked and picked up by Patrick Nugent in the slot. Nugent quickly spun and beat Zach Sikich through the five-hole for the goal.

The second period started slowly before Cherry made a big save on Kevin Rollwagen from close range on the left side. St. Thomas had a great chance to score at 8:30, but after a Cherry save and a flurry, Levi Doria picked the puck off the goal line and cleared it away. John Sales gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead at 11:01 as he took advantage of a failed clear by the St. Thomas goaltender. Sales gathered the puck to the right of the goal and circled towards the front of the net before snapping a shot into the top right corner. Tom Maldonado made a nice bid at 14:45, but his snap shot in transition was stopped by a nice glove save from Sikich before he covered a loose puck in the crease. The Panthers took a commanding 4-0 lead with five seconds left in the period as Sales batted home a puck out of mid-air for a power play goal after a shot from the outside by Brian Phinney was saved.

Middlebury increased the lead to 5-0 at the 7:37 mark of the third period when Darwin Hunt's shot deflected into the net off Sikich for the short handed tally. That would be the game's final goal as the Panthers earned the 5-0 win.

Cherry made 29 saves in goal to earn his third shutout, and second in NCAA Tournament play. Sikich made 28 saves in net for St. Thomas. The Middlebury defense held St. Thomas to 0-9 on the power play, while converting 2 of 7.