Men's Hockey Knocks Off Hamilton in OT - Panthers Advance to NESCAC Semifinals

Jake Charles scored the game winner in OT.
Jake Charles scored the game winner in OT.

The Middlebury men's hockey team knocked off fourth-seeded Hamilton (13-8-4) by a score of 2-1 in overtime in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game at Russell Sage Rink. The Panthers, who entered the tournament as the fifth seed, improve to 8-10-7 overall and will take part in the semifinals next weekend at Trinity. The Bantams earned the right to host after top-seeded Williams fell to #8 Tufts. Middlebury will meet #6 Amherst at 1:00 p.m., while the hosts entertain the eighth-seeded Jumbos at 4:30 p.m.

The winning goal came off the stick of Jake Charles, who capitalized on a rebound by poking a loose puck past Hamilton goaltender Evan Buitenhuis 7:21 into overtime. The play started when the Continentals attempted a clear by sending the puck along the boards from behind their net. After winding around the boards past the face-off circles, the puck took a bounce back toward center ice where Charles sent a pass to Vincent Gisonti down low at the right post. Gisonti's shot was saved by Buitenhuis but the rebound wound up in front of the net to the goaltender's right, where Charles pushed it into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

The Panthers took the lead in the opening period on a goal by Evan Neugold just 2:50 into play. Neugold took a pass on the Middlebury side of the blue line and skated down the right side. After swinging wide toward the boards to evade a defender, he snapped a high wrist shot into the Hamilton net for his sixth goal this winter.

Robbie Murden tied the score 39 seconds into the second with his 17th goal of the year. After a Middlebury clear attempt was kept in the Panther zone, the puck was batted around until Neil Conway pushed it to Murden, who took it to the top of the left face-off circle and scored inside the near post.

The Panthers escaped two Continental scoring threats in the second. A Hamilton shot went over the crossbar after a two-on-one Continental break drew Middlebury netminder Liam Moorfield-Yee out of the crease. With about four minutes left in the period, a blocked shot wound up in front of Hamilton's Richard Court in the slot but his backhand was smothered by Moorfield-Yee.

Early in the third, a shot by Murden sent Moorfield-Yee to the ice to make the save. After the puck rebounded off the prone goaltender into the crease, it was cleared away from in front of the empty net by a Middlebury defender.

Hamilton finished with a 41-25 shots advantage as Moorfield-Yee stopped the Continentals' last 29 shots to finish with 40 saves. The two teams had played to a pair of overtime ties in conference play earlier this season.