Middlebury opened up its second half of the season with a 3-2 win over St. Anselm at the Middlebury College Holiday Classic. The Panthers will take on Hobart, a 5-2 winner over Trinity, in the championship game on New Year's Day at 4:00 p.m. St. Anselm meets Trinity in the consolation game at 1:00 p.m.
Following 14:47 of scoreless action, Middlebury broke onto the board as John Sales skated around the left face-off circle before wristing a shot to the top corner of the net. The Panthers struck again 1:55 later as Evegeny Saidachev's shot was saved before Brett Shirreffs jumped on the rebound for the five-on-three power play goal. Middlebury ended the first period with a 12-5 shots advantage.
St. Anselm picked up the pace in the second period, having a pair of breakaway opportunities turned away by Middlebury's Doug Raeder. The Hawks would end the scoreless period with an 11-3 advantage in shots.
Middlebury took a 3-0 lead at 5:25 of the third period with a power play goal from Saidchev. Darwin Hunt made a quick pass through the crease to an open Saidachev on the far side.
St. Anselm got on the board at 8:41 with a goal from Nick Sacca. Seth Goodrich's shot from the right point was deflected by Colin Fitzpatrick before Sacca stuffed it home from the back side. The Hawks made it a one-goal game with 1:22 remaining as Shane Masotta won a face-off back to Brett Smith, who scored from the left face-off circle with the Hawks' goaltender pulled. That would be the game's final tally as St. Anselm pulled its goalie with 1:00 remaining, but could not net the equalizer.
Raeder made 20 saves in goal to earn the win, while Jason Rafuse turned away 18 shots for St. Anselm.
Date: December 31, 2006 - 4:00 p.m
Venue: Kenyon Arena - Site: Middlebury, Vt.
TEAM 1 2 3 OT F
St. Anselm (3-3-1) 0 0 2 - 2
Middlebury (6-2) 2 0 1 - 3
M-1st (14:37) - John Sales (Tom Maldonado, Evgeny Saidachev)
M-1st (16:32) - PP: Brett Shirreffs (Saidachev)
M-3rd (5:25) - PP: Saidachev (Darwin Hunt, Eric LaFreniere)
S-3rd (8:41) - Nick Sacca (Colin Fitzpatrick, Seth Goodrich)
S-3rd (18:38) - Brett Smith (Shane Masotta, Fitzpatrick)
Doug Raeder-M (60 min., 20 saves, 2 GA)
Jason Rafuse-S (58:23 min., 18 saves, 3 GA)