Louis Belisle scored with 40 seconds left in overtime and lifted Middlebury past 12th-ranked Williams by a 2-1 score during a physical and exciting NESCAC game Saturday evening in Kenyon Arena. The Panthers improve to 9-10-3 overall and 7-7-2 in conference play, while the Ephs fall to 13-6-3 and 9-4-3 in the league. Middlebury stays on home ice next Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. game against Amherst, while Williams hosts Hamilton on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
After the two teams played to a 1-1 tie on Friday evening down in Massachusetts, the first-period action was end-to-end from the opening faceoff. Following a Panther penalty just under eight minutes in, the Ephs got on the scoreboard first just 22 seconds later. Paul Steinig recorded his fifth goal of the winter and third power play score at the 8:14 mark when he fired a laser shot from the right dot following precision passes by David Jarrett and Greg Johnson.
Middlebury had its best chance of the opening period with just under three minutes left when John Barr skated in from center ice through the defense. Barr rifled a shot that Williams’ goalie Sean Dougherty made the initial save on but the rebound came right to the stick of Belisle. Down in the butterfly, Dougherty turned away Belisle’s game-tying attempt as the Panthers possessed a 14-8 advantage in shots during the opening period.
Out of the intermission, Middlebury came out firing and recorded the first six shots of the period. After a pair of Ephs’ penalties that were whistled 39 seconds apart, the Panthers relished the five-on-three opportunity and scored seven seconds later when Derek Pimentel tapped in a tape-to-tape pass and tallied his 11th goal of the season. Ronald Fishman sent a low pass from the left point to Jake Charles who one-timed it to the tape of Pimentel who calmly tapped it in. The hosts ended the period with a 12-4 advantage in shots.
The third period was highlighted by great play between the pipes for both teams. Middlebury’s Liam Moorfield-Yee kept the game tied on a pair of stellar saves in the period, one with his glove and one with his right pad. On the other end of the ice with just under four minutes left in regulation, Dougherty lay on his back and reached up with his glove and snatched a shot by Evan Neugold just before it crossed the goal line.
In the overtime period, there were not many scoring chances. With under a minute to play, Barr dug the puck out of the right defensive boards. Belisle corralled the loose puck, skated the length of the ice and took a shot from just inside the left dot into the upper left corner past Dougherty for the win. The goal was Belisle’s team-leading 14th for the season.
Moorfield-Yee (2-4-1) recorded 22 saves in the victory for Middlebury, while Dougherty (12-6-3) was credited with 42 saves. Middlebury outshot the Ephs by a 44-23 tally and the teams combined for 11 penalties.