Middlebury saw its season come to an end with a 4-2 loss in the NESCAC semifinals at Bowdoin. Danny Palumbo scored a pair of first-period goals to lead Bowdoin to the win on Saturday afternoon at Watson Arena. The fifth-seeded Panthers end their season with a mark of 13-11-2.
The top-seeded Polar Bears, who also got a goal and two assists from Daniel Weiniger, improve to 21-3-2 on the season and advance to the NESCAC title game for the third time in the last four years and sixth time overall. Bowdoin will face Williams in the NESCAC Championship game at 2:00 p.m. Sunday in Watson Arena.
Bowdoin got on the scoreboard first when Tim Coffey won a race to the puck in the corner and centered a pass to Palumbo, who sat unchecked in front of the Middlebury net. Palumbo put home the wide-open chance over Mike Peters’ glove-side shoulder at 11:17.
Late in period, the Polar Bears added a goal in transition to double their lead. John McGinnis crossed the left side of the blue line and played a drop pass to Daniel Weiniger above the circle. Weiniger played a cross-ice pass to Palumbo, who was streaking down the middle. Palumbo redirected the pass inside the right post with just 39 seconds remaining in the frame.
Bowdoin added to their lead midway through the second period when Weiniger picked off a pass in the neutral zone, carried across blue line and deked a Panther defender. Weiniger snapped a shot from the slot that skipped past Peters inside the right post at 7:29.
Middlebury got one back with under four minutes to play in the period when an initial shot by Mike Longo was blocked in front. Robbie Donahoe pounced on the rebound and slapped home the rebound at 16:27 to trim the lead to 3-1 after two periods of play.
The teams traded goals within a 31 second span in the third period. Bowdoin converted on a power play at 3:42 as Ollie Koo put home a slapshot from the point. Moments later, Robbie Dobrowski answered for the Panthers by finishing off a scramble in front at 4:13.
The Panthers had one last chance to cut into Bowdoin’s 4-2 advantage with ten minutes to play, earning a 5x3 advantage. The Polar Bears were able to make a defensive stand and goaltender Max Fenkell made 16 saves on 17 Middlebury shots during the third period to preserve Bowdoin’s lead.
Fenkell stopped 32 shots overall for Bowdoin. Peters made 25 blocks in net for Middlebury. The victory is Bowdoin’s first over Middlebury in NESCAC Tournament play after five prior losses to the Panthers, most recently a 6-3 setback in last year’s NESCAC Semifinals.