Senior Jeff Smith scored the game-winner on a wrister from the high slot with just 1:30 remaining to lift Middlebury to a 3-1 win over Amherst in the regular season finale for both teams. Middlebury's only other senior, goaltender Yen-I Chen, made 23 saves in goal to earn the win on senior day. The Panthers will host Wesleyan in a NESCAC quarterfinal game Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
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Middlebury struck first late in the first period as Mickey Gilchrist snapped a shot into the top left corner from the right face-off circle. Amherst tied the game just 2:54 into the second period as Rob Stevenson's wrister from the right point slide just inside the right post. Both teams had some chances to score through the remainder of the period, with the best chance coming by Middlebury's Robert MacIntyre, who was denied with a great pad save by Josh Fillman at the 17-minute mark.
The third period saw some good scoring chances down the stretch. Fillman came up big on John Sales at 17:10, before Chen made a pair of great saves with 2:30 remaining to keep the game tied at one. Gilchrist scored an empty-netter with an unselfish pass from McKenna following Smith's game-winner. Fillman made 26 stops for the Jeffs between the pipes.
Date: February 18, 2006 - 4:00 p.m
Venue: Kenyon Arena - Site: Middlebury, Vt.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
Amherst (12-11-1) 0 1 0 - 1
Middlebury (20-2-2) 1 0 2 - 3
M-1st (18:15) - PP: Mickey Gilchrist (Jamie McKenna, Robert MacIntyre)
A-2nd (2:54) - Rob Stevenson (Will Collins)
M-3rd (18:30) - Jeff Smith
M-3rd (19:42) - EN: Gilchrist (McKenna)
Yen-I Chen-M (60 min., 23 saves, 1 GA)
Josh Fillman-A (59:18 min., 26 saves, 2 GA)