Middlebury opened up 2016 by scoring two goals in all three periods for a 6-3 win Saturday over SUNY Canton (2-10-2) as part of the Middlebury Holiday Classic in Kenyon Arena. The Panthers (4-2-3) will play Neumann, who defeated New England College by a 4-1 score in the opening game of the day. Middlebury returns to action in Sunday's championship game against the Golden Knights at 4:00 p.m., while SUNY Canton meets New England College at 1:00 p.m. in the consolation game.
The Panthers jumped on the scoreboard just 19 seconds into the game. Vincent Gisonti tallied his team-leading fifth goal when he tapped home a rebound following an initial shot by Ronald Fishman. The Panthers kept up the pressure, doubling their lead at 19:03 when Spencer Cage slapped a loose puck that squirted through SUNY Canton goalie Josh Erickson's legs on an initial shot by Braeden Quast.
In the final seconds of the opening period, the Kangaroos cut the Panther lead in half at 2-1 with 11 ticks remaining. Kyle Matsumoto gathered a rebound on the doorstep after George Curry's initial shot was saved by Middlebury goalie Liam Moorfield-Yee. Curry's shot sent the Panther netminder sprawling and Matsumoto pounced on the puck for the goal.
In the second period, Evan Neugold put the hosts ahead by two (3-1) at the 6:47 mark with a laser-like shot from between the circles on a stick-to-stick pass from the behind the Kangaroo net from teammate Mark McLellan. Just 18 seconds later, the Middlebury edge grew to 4-1 when Jake Charles scored his third of the season when he redirected a shot by Terrance Goguen from just inside the blueline.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Matsumoto scored his second of the game at 17:27 when he corralled a rebound in front of the Panther net off a shot from the right point by Kyle Dora. The hosts took the 4-2 advantage into the second intermission, outshooting the Kangaroos through two periods by a 32-13 count.
In the final period, both teams scored in the opening 79 seconds. Middlebury scored its fifth of the game just under a minute in when Brendan McGovern gathered a SUNY Canton turnover near the red line, weaved his way through defenders and lifted a shot top shelf on the far post for his third goal of the season. Kasey Kulczycki scored 20 seconds later for his third of the campaign when he redirected a scoring attempt by Ben Beasley from the left point. Middlebury's Zach Haggerty tacked on the final goal, his second of the winter, for the Panthers at 11:04 when he stuffed in a loose puck just outside the crease for the 6-3 score.
The Panthers held a decided 40-18 advantage in shots for the contest, and were 0-4 during their power-play opportunities, while the Kangaroos were 0-3 on the extra-man chances.
Moorfield-Yee picked up his first win of the winter in the Panther goal with 15 saves, while Erickson was credited with 34 stops for the Kangaroos.