The Middlebury College men's hockey team will make its seventh consecutive trip in the NESCAC semifinals as they travel to Bowdoin this weekend. The Panthers will take on Colby at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, while the host school meets Amherst at 1:00 p.m. The winners meet for the NESCAC Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
After an atypical regular season for the Panthers, Middlebury has turned things around and are sporting a five-game unbeaten streak entering the NESCAC semifinals. The Panthers and Bowdoin both ended the regular season with identical 11-6-2 marks in NESCAC play, with the Polar Bears earning the top seed and hosting rights with a 6-2 win over Middlebury in January.
The Panthers looked solid in their quarterfinal win over Williams, scoring three first period goals on their way to a 5-1 win. Sam Driver had two goals and an assist in the win, while Doug Raeder made 25 saves in goal.
Middlebury is now 16-1 overall in NESCAC Tournament play, winning and hosting six of the seven tournaments. The Panthers have also captured eight NCAA titles, from '95-'99 as well as '04-'06.
The Middlebury offense ranks fourth in the NESCAC this season with 3.44 goals/game. The defense has allowed the fewest goals in NESCAC play (2.32/game). The penalty kill was solid as well, killing .864 of its opponent's power plays, tops in the NESCAC.
Mickey Gilchrist leads the Panthers in scoring this season with a team-high 15 goals and 29 points to go along with his 14 assists. The junior leads the team with seven power play and four game-winners this season. Gilchrist now has 107 points in 83 career games.
Tom Maldonado leads the team and ranks fourth in the league with .92 assists/game. The junior has one goal to go along with his 23 assists this season. Seniors John Sales (8-12-20), Brett Shirreffs (7-6-13), Evgeny Saidachev (4-8-12) and sophomore Jamie McKenna (3-9-12) round out the other leading scorers.
Ross Cherry and Doug Raeder have again split time between the pipes this season. Raeder is 10-3 with a 2.36 GAA, while
Cherry is 5-4-3 with a 2.26 GAA.
Bowdoin will offer live webcasts of all NESCAC Championship games this weekend. Check the website later this week for more details
2007 NESCAC MEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 24 at Higher Seeds
#1 Bowdoin 7, #8 Trinity 3
#2 Middlebury 5, #7 Williams 1
#3 Colby 5, #6 Conn. College 1
#5 Amherst 2, #4 Wesleyan 0
Semifinals - Saturday, March 3rd (Bowdoin)
#5 Amherst (14-9-1) vs. #1 Bowdoin (15-6-3) - 1:00 p.m.
#3 Colby (14-8-2) vs. #2 Middlebury (15-7-3) - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 4th
NESCAC Championship - 1:00 p.m.