For the fourth time in school history, Middlebury College will be the host site for the NCAA Division III Men's Hockey Championship. The games will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 18-19 at the Kenyon Arena. Middlebury will meet New England College (4-2 winner over Manhattanville) at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, while Trinity (4-0 winner over Geneseo) takes on St. Thomas (a 3-2 winner over St. Norbert) in the first game at 3:30 p.m. The winners meet for the NCAA title on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers enter the game with a 26-5-2 record in NCAA, the most wins of any team in the tournament's history. Middlebury won the title from '95-'99 and again last season for a total of six NCAA crowns. The Panthers fell in the quarterfinals in '00, and '01 and the semifinals '02 and '03, before regaining the title in '04. Middlebury has an impressive 255-37-13 (.857) record over the past 11 seasons, with head coach Bill Beaney sporting a 354-103-22 (.762) record in his 18th season at the helm of the program.
The defending NCAA Champions earned their bid to the tournament by capturing their fifth NESCAC Championship in six years, with a 3-2 win over Bowdoin. Last Saturday, the Panthers picked up a 6-0 shutout win over Curry in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Panthers enter the weekend with a 21-4-3 overall record, after going 13-4-2 in NESCAC play. Middlebury was ranked fourth in the final national poll and fifth in the PairWise power rankings. The Middlebury defense is tops nationally, allowing 1.71 goals/game, while the penalty kill is fifth at .891.
A pair of rookies lead the team in scoring this season, Tom Maldonado and Mickey Gilchrist. Maldonado is a defender who leads the team with 24 assists and 28 points to go along with his four goals. Gilchrist is the team's leading goal scorer with 19, to go along with his seven assists for 26 points, tying for the team-lead with five power play goals. Captain Brian Phinney (9-14-23) is next among the leaders, tied for the team-lead with five power play tallies, followed by Patrick Nugent (9-12-21), John Sales (11-9-20), Darwin Hunt (8-12-20) and Justin Gaines (5-13-18).
In goal, Ross Cherry has been between the pipes since February 12th, sporting an 8-1-2 record with a 1.72 GAA and a .941 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts. His save percentage is tops in the nation, while his GAA is third. Yen-I Chen sports a 12-3-1 record with a 1.61 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
2005 NCAA Division III Men's Hockey Tournament
First-Round, Wednweday, March 9th
St. Thomas 4, St. John's 1
Quarterfinals, Saturday, March 12th
St. Thomas 3*, St. Norbert 2
Trinity 4, Geneseo* 0
Middlebury* 6, Curry 0
N.E.C. 4, Manhattanville* 2
Semifinals, Friday, March 18th - Kenyon Arena - Middlebury College
St. Thomas (19-5-5) vs. Trinity (21-3-2) - 3:30 p.m.
Middlebury (21-4-3) vs. N.E.C. (18-11) - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 19th
NCAA Championship - 7:00 p.m.