Middlebury will make its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship game after a 3-2 win over Manhattanville in a semifinal contest played in Superior, Wisconsin. The Panthers will take on Oswego, a 4-3 overtime winner over St. Norbert in the other semifinal game. The two teams last met in the '03 semifinals at Norwich, where the Lakers handed the Panthers a 6-0 loss. The win gives the Panthers their 13th straight 20-win season, as they move to 20-7-2 on the year. The title game can be seen live on Sunday at 4:00 pm. eastern on CSTV (College Sports Television)
Manhattanville looked strong early, with several good scoring opportunities. Just two minutes in, Justin Rohr was stopped from point-blank range by Middlebury's Doug Raeder. Mickey Gilchrist snapped a hard shot on goal on a power play at 7:00, but he was denied by Manhattanville netminder Andrew Gallant, the national player of the year. The Valiants had another chance at the 8:20 mark, but Dillon Henningson's shot was stopped by Raeder before Scott Bartlett cleared the puck off the goal line. Raeder made two more solid saves during the Valiant's power play, keeping the game scoreless. Manhattanville held an 11-8 shots advantage after one period.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the second period as Mickey Gilchrist scored his second short-handed goal of the season. Gilchrist intercepted a pass in the slot then put a pair of deke moves on Gallant before tucking a shot into the left side of the net.
Manhattanville tied the game with a short-handed tally of its own at 11:09. Rohr broke out in a two-on-one situation, keeping the puck down the left wing and snapping a shot to the top right corner of the net over the shoulder of Raeder.
Raeder kept it a 1-1 contest as he denied Rohr on a wrap-around at the 15-minute mark, before stuffing Arlen Marshall just a minute later. Rohr struck again with another shortie, this time at 17:40 to give the Valiants a 2-1 lead. A shot rebounded off the back boards and into the crease area, where Rohr was able to dive and poke a shot into the top corner of the net. Gilchrist had a great chance to tie the game moments later, but his shot was denied as he drove towards the goal from the right side.
The Panthers tied the game with 20 seconds left in the period as Jamie McKenna and Justin Gaines worked a great give-and-go, with McKenna finishing from the slot. Middlebury held a 15-14 edge in shots in an up and down period.
Middlebury scored the go-ahead goal just 1:29 into the third period, taking a 3-2 lead. Darwin Hunt's shot was saved, two Panthers then fanned on the puck, before Evgeny Saidachev finished from the slot. The Panthers had some more quality chances on a power play at 6:14, but Gallant was equal to the task.
Manhattanville ended the game with a flurry as they had a power play with their netminder pulled for a six-on-four situation for the game's final 59 seconds. The Valiants had a couple of chances during the power play but Raeder came up big to preserve the win.
Raeder ended the game with a career-high 34 saves, while Gallant made 31 stops for Manhattanville.
Date: March 17, 2007 - 4:00 p.m.
Venue: Wessman Arena - Site: Superior, Wis.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
Middlebury (20-7-3) 0 2 1 - 3
Manhattanville (21-2-5) 0 2 0 - 2
M-2nd (:26) - SH: Mickey Gilchrist
Ma-2nd (11:09) - SH: Justin Rohr
Ma-2nd (17:40) - SH: Justin Rohr (Chris Mills)
M-2nd (19:40) - Jamie McKenna (Justin Gaines)
M-3rd (1:29) - Evgeny Saidachev (Darwin Hunt, Eric LaFreniere)
Doug Raeder-M (60 min., 34 saves, 2 GA)
Andres Gallant-Ma (58:55 min., 31 saves, 3 GA)