Senior John Sullivan scored two goals and classmate Charlie Townsend added a goal and an assist as ninth-ranked Middlebury defeated host Babson, 3-1, in an ECAC East/NESCAC matchup at the Babson Skating Center on Saturday afternoon. With the, Middlebury improves to 14-4-4 overall and 10-3-4 in the NESCAC, while the Beavers drop to 12-9-2 overall and 9-7-1 in ECAC East play.
Middlebury got on the board with a powerplay goal midway through the opening period, as Sullivan poked a loose puck through the legs of Babson first-year goalie Zeke Testa out of a scrum in front at 11:39. Sophomore Jak Knelman and Townsend each picked up assists on the play for the Panthers, who headed into the first intermission armed with a 1-0 lead.
The visitors doubled their lead with another powerplay goal early in the second session, beginning when first-year Chris Steele stopped an attempted clear at the left point. His ensuing slapshot from the blueline was saved by Testa, but the rebound trickled out to the high slot where Townsend stuffed it home at 19:47.
Middlebury went on to finish the second period with a commanding 16-7 shot advantage, but not before Babson broke through in the closing moments of the session. Ryan Smith fed the puck into the high slot, where junior Terry Woods powered his way through a pair of defenders and snapped off a quick shot that found the lower right corner for the Beavers' first goal of the contest at 18:56. It was Woods' team-leading 14th goal and 29th point of the season, as Babson cut its deficit to 2-1 heading into the final period of play.
Babson had a powerplay opportunity four and a half minutes into the third, but the Middlebury defense surrendered just one shot on net during the man-advantage that was easily handled by sophomore goalie John Yanchek. The Beavers then had another great scoring chance when Trevor Hines appeared to have a clean breakaway on Yanchek at 7:49, but Panther rookie defenseman Mathieu Castonguay made a fantastic diving swipe from behind to knock the puck out of play.
Middlebury sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 35.1 seconds left, as Sullivan chased down a loose puck at center-ice and skated in alone to convert his second of the game and ninth of the season, finishing off the 3-1 Panthers win.
Yanchek finished a stellar game in net with 18 saves for Middlebury, while Testa had another terrific game in goal for Babson, making 31 saves, including five straight during a crucial Panther powerplay midway through the third period.