Early Goals Lift Williams Past Middlebury, 3-0

Senior defenseman Andrew Neary.
Senior defenseman Andrew Neary.

Williams scored twice in the opening three minutes and goalie Michael Pinios stopped all 23 shots he faced as the Ephs skated past Middlebury 3-0 on Friday in Kenyon Arena. The teams complete their two-game NESCAC weekend series Saturday at Williams, facing off at 7:00 p.m.

Williams (12-6-3, 9-3-3) got the early jump on the Panthers (3-16-2, 3-12-0) when Tyler Young lofted a long clearing attempt that David Italiano skated onto, creating a breakaway. Italiano deked to his forehand and lifted a backhander into the top part of the net 1:27 into the contest for a 1-0 lead. The Ephs doubled the advantage 1:27 later on a nice passing play that resulted in Wyatt Glover tapping in a centering pass from Alex Hagerty. Middlebury's Mitchell Allen had the best scoring opportunity for the Panthers late in the period on a power play. Allen took a cross-ice pass from Travis Stephens in the left circle, but Pinios made a sprawling save to send keep it a 2-0 at the first intermission.

In the middle stanza, Williams erased 27 seconds of five-on-three power-play time for the Panthers and later generated two quality chances on back-to-back shots. Marcus Mullica had the first shot from on the doorstep and C.J. Shugart poked at the rebound, but Middlebury goalie Stephen Klein denied each bid. Middlebury had its two best scoring opportunities in the final minute with the first coming off the stick of Danny Jacobs. Jacobs weaved his way into the slot and had his shot denied by Pinios with 25 seconds remaining, while David Belluche rang a shot from the point off the right post seconds later.

In the final period, Pinios stopped an early Panther chance when he kicked out a low shot from the point by Belluche in the opening minutes. The Ephs added a third goal at the 8:08 mark of the frame when Roberto Cellini punched in a rebound on a shot from the left point by Frankie Mork. Middlebury had another opportunity in the closing minutes, but Trevor Turnbull hit the outside of the net after breaking in on goal from the right circle, making the final 3-0.

Klein finished with 26 saves as the Ephs held a 29-23 advantage in shots. The Panthers went 0-4 on the power play, while Williams was scoreless in two chances. With the win, the Ephs moved into sole possession of first place in the conference standings with 21 points, following Colby's 2-1 overtime victory at Trinity.