The Middlebury men's hockey team blanked 15th-ranked Plattsburgh State by a 3-0 score on Friday, advancing to the title game of the 21st Annual PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut in Kreitzberg Arena. The Panthers (2-1-0) will play the host Cadets, who were a 3-2 winner over second-ranked Adrian in the day's second game, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the championship game, Plattsburgh State (3-2-1) will take on the Bulldogs in the consolation game at 4:00 p.m.
The first period went scoreless with Plattsburgh State holding a narrow 12-11 edge in shots. The best scoring chance for Middlebury came 4:25 into action when Danny Tighe's wraparound shot was saved by Cardinal goalie Jimmy Poreda, and the rebound came to Matt Danner, but Poreda corralled Danner's attempt on the doorstep.
In the middle frame with less than six minutes elapsed, the Cardinals produced a 2-on-1 chance, but Panther goalie Brian Ketchabaw pushed to his right and sprawled out to save Greg Malafronte's bid on the left post. After Middlebury managed to kill three power-play chances for Plattsburgh State, the Panthers got on the scoreboard nearly four minutes later when Owen Powers redirected a shot from the right dot by Jimmy McKee. The goal came at 9:42 and was Powers' second tally of the season.
The Panthers doubled their lead a little more than five minutes later. While killing off a power-play chance, Zach Shapiro collected a loose puck near the defensive blueline. He skated up the left side, firing a wrist shot that snuck between the legs of Poreda for the short-handed tally at 15:08.
The third period saw limited chances for both teams. With just over six minutes left, Plattsburgh State's best opportunity took place when Rich McCartney wristed a shot on the doorstep that Ketchabaw saved, before the rebound came to a charging Daniil Ovchinnikov. Ketchabaw slid over and thwarted the chance with his body. The Cardinals pulled Poreda with 2:23 left, but were unable to muster an attempt. After a blocked shot by Kamil Tkaczuk, Michael Fahie took the loose puck and scored on the empty net to seal the win with 1:33 left. The goal was Fahie's first of the winter.
Ketchabaw finished with 26 saves for his first career shutout, while Poreda made 24 stops for the Cardinals. Middlebury held a narrow 27-26 advantage in shots, as the Panthers went 0-3 on the power play, while Plattsburgh State was 0-5 with the extra skater.