Playing for the first time in nearly a month, the fourth-ranked Middlebury women's hockey team utilized a goal from Katie Mandigo with 6:41 left in regulation to earn a 2-2 tie on Saturday afternoon with second-ranked Elmira inside the Murray Athletic Center Ice Arena. The Panthers (5-2-1) jump back into NESCAC action next weekend when they play host to Wesleyan on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
The teams tested each other throughout the opening period as both managed 13 shots on goal, but were unable to find the back of the net. Middlebury had a scoring opportunity to tally the game's first goal with 17 seconds left in the period when on a Panther power play, Allie Aiello had the puck on her stick just a few feet away from Elmira netminder Kyle Nelson. However, Aiello was unable to get enough on the shot and Nelson turned it away to keep the game scoreless entering the first intermission.
Middlebury's close scoring encounter was a sign of things to come as the Panthers took a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the second period. The Panther goal was scored by Emily Fluke, who one-timed a shot off of a missed attempt by Hannah Bielawski, beating Nelson on the weak side.
At the 17:12 mark of the second period, the Soaring Eagles went on the power-play. Elmira took advantage of the extra skater as Erin Weston scored her fourth goal of the season, evening the game at 1-1 with 2:40 to play in the period. The goal was setup by a sleek cross-ice pass from Ashley Ryan to Weston who beat Middlebury goalie Madeline Marsh stick-side for the score. Brooke Wilgosh was also credited with an assist on the goal.
Weston's goal sent the Purple and Gold into the final intermission tied at 1-1, despite being outshot 13-3 in the period.
In the third period, Elmira (9-1-1) broke the 1-1 tie at the 5:06 mark of the period as Weston scored her second goal. Weston's go-ahead goal was created by Rachel Grampp, who after stealing the puck in Elmira's defensive zone, started a 3-on-2 opportunity with Ryan and Weston. After carrying the puck out of the defensive zone, Grampp dumped the puck to Ryan in the neutral zone, allowing Ryan to lay-off a pass to Weston who would once again beat Marsh for the score.
Leading by a single goal, Elmira looked to close the door on Middlebury but great individual efforts by Elizabeth Wulf and Mandigo allowed the Panthers to even the game at 2-2 with 6:41 to play in regulation. In Elmira's defensive zone, Wulf came out of a four-person scrum with the puck and sent it to Mandigo who took it behind the net. Mandigo wrapped around the net and beat Nelson far post with the backside of her stick for the score.
Mandigo's goal would hold up through the final whistle of the third period as the game remained tied at 2-2, forcing an overtime period. The two teams combined for five shots in overtime, three for Middlebury and two for Elmira, but none of them found the back of the net as the game ended in a tie.
Nelson made a career-high 35 saves in 65 minutes of action, while Marsh made 26 stops in 65 minutes. Middlebury held the advantage in shots, 37-28, and the Panthers were 0-5 on power-play chances while the Soaring Eagles went 1-4.
The two teams also played back on November 29 during the Panther/Cardinal Classic, as the Soaring Eagles came away with a 4-1 victory.