The seventh-ranked Middlebury Panthers used a decisive five-goal run in the fourth quarter to hold off a pesky Hamilton squad, earning an 11-8 NESCAC win. Middlebury led 6-5 to open the fourth quarter before the five-goal barrage gave the Panthers an 11-5 lead, as the Continentals added three late goals for the 11-8 final. Both teams host a NESCAC contest on Saturday as the Panthers (8-2, 5-1) invite Colby to Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium, while the Continentals (6-4, 2-4) face Trinity at Steuben Field in Clinton, New York.
Middlebury twice built two-goal leads in the first half only to see Hamilton slice them back to a one-goal cushion. Leading 3-2 in the second quarter, the Panthers closed out the half with a three-goal spurt with three low goals on Hamilton starting goalie Will Driscoll. Cedric Rhodes started the run with a goal at 6:31 off a feed from Sean Carroll. David Murray muscled his way in with a doorstep turn-around tally before Carroll assisted Kyle Soroka's goal at 1:40, giving the Panthers a 6-2 lead heading into the break.
The third quarter belonged to the Continentals as they used their own three-goal run in the stanza to make it a 6-5 contest. Pax Anthos started the scoring with a rolling dodge to his right at 12:52, as Jack Gaul scored with an over-the-head tomahawk shot that bounced past Panther netminder Will Ernst at 8:54. Joe Ricciuti, with a defender on his back, made it a 6-5 game scoring from mid-range to close out the run at 6:54.
In the fourth quarter the Middlebury offense got on track, scoring three of its decisive five final-stanza goals in a span of 72 seconds. First, Henry Riehl set-up Tim Giarrusso at 11:05, then Riehl scored a man-up tally 59 seconds later. Joey Zelkowitz made it 9-5 moments after a John Jackson faceoff win with a strong lefty move. The Panthers were not done on offense as Jack Cleary netted his second goal of the game, before Riehl capped the five-goal run with his hat-trick tally at 5:49.
With 3:07 remaining to play, each team substituted goalies, as brothers Noah and Gabe Weissmann entered the contest for Hamilton and Middlebury, respectfully.
In the final minutes, the Continentals strung three goals together as John Zimmerman and Anthos scored unassisted goals, while Zimmerman set-up Connor Morgan for the final goal of the game with 12 seconds left to play.
Riehl finished with three goals and an assist for Middlebury. Cleary ended the contest with two goals, while Jon Broome and Carroll added two assists apiece. Defenseman Cal Williams paced the Panthers with eight groundballs and four caused turnovers, while Jackson won 11-19 faceoffs. Ernst (8-2) earned the win in net, making seven saves against five goals in 56:53 of action, as Weissmann made two saves in relief.
Zimmerman led Hamilton with a goal and two helpers, while Ricciuti and Anthos each netted two goals. Eric Zurmuehle collected 9-17 faceoff wins, as Driscoll (6-4) took the loss in goal, making 13 stops and allowing all 11 goals. Weissmann saw no action in his 3:07 in front of the crease.