Middlebury won its third straight NESCAC Championship and its sixth in seven years as they defeated Bowdoin 3-1 in the Kenyon Arena. The Panthers will make their 12th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament when the pairings are announced Sunday night. Bowdoin will hope for an at-large bid to the tourney. Middlebury out shot Bowdoin 38-9 on the night, with the Polar Bears going 0/6 on the power play.
Neither team mustered up any shots early, with Middlebury's Evgeny Saidachev having the best chance on a short handed opportunity at the 7:25 mark. The shot was the first on goal for either team in the game. Bowdoin had a pair of power plays in the first eight minutes of the game, but could not fire a shot on goal. The Panther broke onto the board at 14:09 as John Sales gathered a rebound in the high slot, spun around, and wristed a shot into the top left corner of the net. The Polar Bears would have another power play late in the period, but could not get a shot on goal. Bowdoin's best chance to score came in the last minute of the period as they earned their only shot on goal after a flurry in the Middlebury crease. The Panthers ended the period with a 16-1 shots advantage.
Bowdoin had another short handed opportunity just 1:30 into the second period, but Tim McVaugh's shot was denied by Ross Cherry. Middlebury had three power plays in the first 6:12 of the second period, but could not find the back of the net. The Panthers made it a 2-0 game at 11:48 as Mickey Gilchrist converted a nice feed from Jamie McKenna. Bowdoin took a tough blow at the 14:55 mark as their leading scorer Jon Landry was hit with a five-minute major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct. Middlebury took two quick penalties after the major, resulting in a man advantage for just over two minutes late in the period.
Bowdoin cut the lead in half with their first goal of the game just 34 seconds into the third period. McVaugh scored with a tough angled shot on the goal line after taking a pass from behind the net from Greg McConnell. George Papachristopoulos stacked his pads on Saidachev at 4:30 and then robbed Leonard Badeau with a glove save at 6:30 to keep it a 2-1 game. Middlebury would earn some much-needed breathing room with 1:30 on a power play goal. Robert MacIntyre slid a pass behind the net to Gilchrist, who walked out in front and banged in a shot off Papachristopoulos after he had gone down. Bowdoin pulled its netminder for the final 1:15, but could not solve Cherry, who made eight saves on the night. Papachristopoulos made 35 saves between the pipes for Bowdoin.
Gilchrist tied the tournament record with five goals, while setting a new mark with 10 points. Middlebury's 19 goals in the tourney were a new record, while its three goals allowed ties the record.
Date: March 4, 2006 - 7:00 p.m
Venue: Kenyon Arena - Site: Middlebury, Vt.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
Bowdoin (17-7-3) 0 0 1 - 1
Middlebury (23-2-2) 1 1 1 - 3
M-1st (14:09) - John Sales (Robert MacIntyre, Mickey Gilchrist)
M-2nd (11:48) - Gilchrist (Jamie McKenna)
B-3rd (:34) - Tim McVaugh (Greg McConnell)
M-3rd (18:30) - PP: Gilchrist (MacIntyre, McKenna)
Ross Cherry-M (60 min., 8 saves, 1 GA)
George Papachristopoulos-B (58:45 min., 35 saves, 3 GA)