Middlebury Drops 3-2 NESCAC Decision to #6 Williams

Ronald Fishman assisted on both Middlebury goals.
Ronald Fishman assisted on both Middlebury goals.

The Middlebury men's hockey team jumped out to a two-goal lead, but sixth-ranked Williams netted the final three as the Panthers fell to the Ephs 3-2 on Friday in Kenyon Arena. Middlebury (6-10-5, 5-5-6) returns to action on February 20, hosting Hamilton at 4:00 p.m., while Williams (17-4-1, 13-2-1) is home against Amherst the same day iwith a 3:00 p.m. start.

The scoring chances were limited in the opening part of the first period, with the opportunities picking up in the final five minutes. Williams' Marcus Mollica caused a turnover in the right circle of Middlebury's zone and quickly fired a shot on goal, but Panther goalie Liam Moorfield-Yee held his ground and made the save. Middlebury countered minutes later on a tip in front by Mike Najjar, with Michael Pinios making the save with 2:20 left before the intermission.

The Panthers struck for a power-play goal in the final minute of the first period, when Travis Stephens tapped in a rebound on a shot by Najjar that bounced off of the high glass on the end boards and back to the side of the net. The goal came with 35.6 seconds left in the period and was his fourth of the season.

Middlebury opened up a 2-0 lead at the 11:26 mark on a goal by Zach Haggerty. Ronald Fishman head manned the puck up to Haggerty along the left wing and the senior forward wristed a shot from the face-off dot past Pinios. The goal was his seventh of the season and his third in the last two nights.

The Ephs tied the game with two goals in a span of 1:16 in the latter stages of the middle frame. Colby Cretella tipped in a shot by Tyler Young to make it a one-goal game with 6:27 remaining. Joe Welch tied the game sliding in a long rebound on a shot by George Hunkele at the 14:49 mark.

Williams scored the game-winning goal 3:10 into the final period, when Alex Hagerty poked in his own rebound after his original shot from the right side was stopped by Moorfield-Yee.

Middlebury pulled Moorfield-Yee (32 saves) with 1:14 left in regulation and earned a power play with 25 seconds on the clock. Kamil Tkaczuk had one chance down low for the Panthers on the man-advantage, but two scoring bids in the waning seconds were blocked by Young at the point to protect the one-goal victory.

Pinios finished with 21 saves, as the Ephs held a 35-23 edge in shots on goal. Each team went 1-4 on the power play.