The Middlebury men's hockey team closed Bowdoin's Dayton Arena the same way they opened it 52 years ago, by defeating the Polar Bears. The Panthers scored in each period on their way to a 5-2 NESCAC road win on Friday night. Middlebury returns to action on Saturday at Colby, while Bowdoin will open its new rink on Sunday against Williams.
Middlebury controlled the early play and got on the board first, as Michael Kretschmer rifled a shot from the point to give the visitors a 1-0 lead just 4:59 into the contest. Richard Nerland swept aside the other 11 chances he faced in the opening stanza, however, as Middlebury carried their one-goal advantage into the second frame.
A powerplay chance resulted in the Panthers doubling their lead early in the second period. Charlie Strauss finished off a series of nice passes to give Middlebury a 2-0 advantage just 36 seconds into the frame. The Panthers continued their offensive pressure and finished off an odd-man rush when Strauss banged home a rebound at 4:01.
Bowdoin's first powerplay of the game resulted in their first score, as Mike Corbelle deposited a rebound off a shot by Graham Sisson at 11:52 to close the gap to 3-1 after forty minutes. The Polar Bears continued to chip away at the Middlebury lead after controlling the first 10 minutes of the third stanza. Mike Corbelle cut loose into a slapshot from the blue line that was deflected in front by Sisson and past Middlebury's John Yanchek to make it 3-2 with 9:38 remaining.
Bowdoin continued to press, but a dump-in by Middlebury led to a bouncing puck which came to the stick of John Sullivan, who deposited it top-shelf to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead with under three minutes to play. The Panthers iced the game just moments later, as an odd-man rush saw Ken Suchoski feed Mason Graddock to make it 5-2 with 2:15 left.
Yanchek stopped 26 shots for Middlebury, while Nerland finished with 31 saves for Bowdoin.