Middlebury dropped its final game of the regular season, falling 3-2 to Castleton in Kenyon Arena. The Panthers (11-7-6) earn the third seed for the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will host #6 Colby in the quarterfinals next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Castleton improves to 21-3-1 overall, earning the second seed for the ECAC East Tourney.
Castleton took a 1-0 lead 3:10 into the game when Stuart Stefan scored from the left wing after a drop pass from Justin Alonzo. The Spartans made it a 2-0 game at 10:55 with Stefan scoring his team-leading 19th goal of the season, this one on the power play. Tyler Atkins sent in a blast from the left wing that deflected off Stefan for the tally. The Panthers ended the period with a 2-0 deficit, going 0/4 on the power play, including 1:30 of five-on-three action.
The Panthers took advantage of a five-on-three power play in the second period, scoring at the 5:31 mark. Tucker Donohoe passed the puck to Charles Nerback at the left wing, before his blast deflected in for his seventh of the year to make it a 2-1 game. The Panthers had a great chance to tie the game midway through the period, but could not score after a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty on the Spartans. Donohoe nearly tied the game with four minutes remaining in the period, but his backhander cutting to goal was denied by Erick Cinotti.
The Spartans took a 3-2 lead at the 16:50 mark, when Ben Schoeneberger one-timed a crossing pass from Ross Herzog. Nerbak nearly tied the game moments later, but his shot hit the left post.
Middlebury made it a one-goal game just 21 seconds into the third period, with J.D. Vermette netting his eighth of the season. Louis Belisle fed Vermette cutting through the slot, as he scored with a quick wrister to the top right corner. The Spartans nearly answered moments later, but John Yanchek stopped Chris Wieland on a breakaway.
Yanchek made a big glove save on Herzog with five minutes remaining, as Castleton went on the power play seconds later. Middlebury killed the power play and then pulled Yanchek (20 saves) with a minute remaining, but was unable to tie the game. The Panthers finished the game -8 on the power play, as Castleton racked up 14 penalties for 55 minutes.
Middlebury ended the game with a 27-23 shots advantage, with Cinotti making 25 saves to earn the win.