The Middlebury men’s hockey team advanced to the championship game of the 15th annual PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout with a 3-2 win over Plattsburgh on day one. The Panthers (2-0-1) advance to Saturday night’s final at Norwich, where they will take on host school or St. Thomas in the title game at 7:00 p.m.
The game opened with a fast-paced first period, allowing Plattsburgh’s (5-2) Nick Jensen a quality shot that was denied by Panther goaltender Nick BonDurant. The Cardinals were finally able to cash one in late in the period when Andrew Smith dropped a pass for Jared Docking, who had just crossed into the Middlebury end. Docking fired a slap shot that beat BonDurant to give Plattsburgh a 1-0 lead with 3:59 remaining.
The second period proved to be the exact opposite of the first as Middlebury controlled much of the play. The Panthers tied it at 1-1 when Derek Pimentel knocked home a rebound at the 11:17 mark. Riley Dickie and Thomas Freyre picked up assists on the goal.
Middlebury rookie Evan Neugold gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead with 4:39 left in the middle period, making a move around a Cardinal defender and lifting a shot over Plattsburgh goalie Mathieu Cadieux’s shoulder.
The Panthers had another golden opportunity early in the third period with a two-on-one, but Trevor Pollock’s shot went high over Cadieux. A minute later, back-to-back penalties opened the ice for a 4x4 opportunity and Middlebury quickly made it 3-1 with a goal by George Ordway with 5:51 gone in the third.
With 11:55 remaining in regulation, Plattsburgh State cut the deficit to 3-2 on Alex Brenton’s fourth of the year. Brenton took a cross-ice pass from Patrick Jobb and beat BonDurant on the back post.
The goal gave the Cardinals a boost of momentum for the remainder of the third but Plattsburgh was unable to find the back of the net. Later in the period, Ryan Farnan had a chance to net the equalizer but Farnan’s shot was stopped by the left pad of BonDurant. Docking was also battling to score the game-tying goal, but his shot from the middle of the far circle was blocked by a Middlebury defender.
The Cardinals finished with a 25-21 advantage in shots on goal, while both squads went 0-3 on the power-play. BonDurant turned away 23 shots to improve to 2-0-1 on the year, while Cadieux recorded 18 saves in the loss, dropping to 3-2-0 for the Cardinals.