Middlebury head coach Bill Beaney became just the 12th coach in NCAA history to earn 600 career wins, while leading the NCAA in Division III victories, as the Panthers (8-9-3, 5-6-3) cruised past Wesleyan (2-18-0, 1-13-0) by a 3-0 score on Saturday in Kenyon Arena. Now in his 35th season overall, Beaney has a career mark of 600-257-59, going 514-181-51 in 28 years at the helm of the Panthers. Middlebury returns to action Friday evening when it hosts Williams at 7:00 p.m., while the Cardinals entertain Colby at the same time.
Middlebury started from the opening faceoff and put pressure on the Wesleyan defense, but the hosts were unable to get the puck past Cardinal goalie Dawson Sprigings during the first 16 minutes of play.
With the Panthers continuing to put shots on the Wesleyan net, Evan Neugold got the Panthers on the board when he lifted a shot over Sprigings off a rebound at 16:35. Greg Conrad initiated the play as he drove hard toward the net from the left and his shot was turned away by Sprigings. Neugold's game-winner was his sixth goal of the season, as the hosts held a 17-5 advantage in shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes.
Nearing the conclusion of the Panthers' lone power-play opportunity of the game, Derek Pimentel doubled the Middlebury advantage 2:22 into the second period. He tapped in a bouncing puck on a rebound following an initial shot by Cameron Romoff from the right point. With a little over eight minutes left in the period, Jake Charles looked to put Middlebury up by three as shots by Romoff and Charles were turned away by Sprigings from point-blank range.
At the 16:46 mark, Mike Najjar gave the Panthers a three-goal lead. He stuck home a shot off a nifty drop pass in the slot by Ronald Fishman. Wesleyan's best scoring chance came in the final seconds when James Kline came racing down the left side one-on-one with a Middlebury defender, but Panther goalie Stephen Klein corralled Kline's quick wrister in his chest.
Both teams had few scoring opportunities in the final period as the Panthers edged the Cardinals in shots, 6-4.
Middlebury outshot Wesleyan 37-13 in the game as there were just two penalties called. Klein picked up his second career shutout stopping all 13 attempts in the win, while Sprigings was credited with 34 stops for the Cardinals.