Senior captain Brian Phinney scored two goals and assisted on the game-winner and freshman Ross Cherry made 46 saves in goal to lead Middlebury to a 3-2 win over Bowdoin in the finals of the NESCAC Men's Hockey Championship Tournament at Kingswood-Oxford Rink. The Panthers earn an automatic bid the NCAA Tournament and will host Curry on Saturday, March 12th at 7:00 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
Senior captain defenseman Brian Phinney scored two goals and assisted on the game-winner and Ross Cherry made 46 saves in goal to lead Middlebury to a 3-2 win over Bowdoin in the championship game. The Panthers earn an automatic bid to the NCAA
In the first period, Cherry held Bowdoin at bay with 15 saves on as many shots, while Bowdoin's George Papachristopoulos did the same against 10 shots by the Panthers. Middlebury appeared to break the scoreless tie with 3:32 left in the first frame, but the officials ruled that the net had come loose before the puck had trickled behind Papachristopoulos.
The second period featured all the game's scoring, including five power play goals. Middlebury scored 58 seconds into the second period when Phinney's slapshot from the center of the blue line went high into the net. Bowdoin answered with a goal from Greg McConnell at the 3:02 mark. The Polar Bears briefly took the lead at 2-1 on a stuff-in by Shannon McNevan 8:13 into the second stanza, but Middlebury responded 56 seconds later on Phinney's second slapshot goal of the game. Bowdoin out shot Middlebury, 26-11, in the second period but hurt themselves with three penalties in five minutes. John Sales scored the game winner at 16:08 when a slapshot from the right wing by Phinney ricocheted off Papachristopoulos' pads directly to him on the left.
A scoreless third period left Middlebury with the 3-2 win. Cherry stopped 24 shots in the second period and 12 in the third, while Papachristopoulos finished with 34 saves for Bowdoin.