Middlebury scored a season high six goals, as the Panthers claimed the opening game of their two-game series with Colby with a 6-2 victory on Friday. Eighth-ranked Middlebury (14-3-3, 9-2-2) and the Mules (10-8-3, 7-8-0) return to the ice on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
The hosts held a territorial advantage throughout the opening period and were helped by an early power play. The Mules had a quality chance to score first when Lexi Cafiero skated in on Middlebury goalie Lin Han from the right wing. Han held her ground and made a left pad save with just over 14 minutes remaining.
The Panthers struck for a pair of late goals, coming 40 seconds apart. Katarina Shuchuk knocked in a rebound on an Ellie Barney shot with 1:36 showing on the clock for her third goal in the last two games. Less than a minute later, Ashley McDonald deflected a shot from the high slot by Jenna Marotta for her first collegiate goal.
Middlebury exploded with four goals in the middle frame, starting with power-play marker at the 1:19 mark. Jenna Letterie tucked home a shot from the left post after the puck slid along the goal line. Marotta made it a 4-0 game minutes later with a shot from the slot, while the hosts added two more scores 45 seconds apart to balloon the lead to 6-0. Barney benefitted from McDonald's work in the corner for her first goal and fourth point of the night, while Katie Hargrave took advantage of a Mule turnover for an unassisted tally with 6:01 on the clock.
Colby added a goal with 4:13 left in the second stanza, as Elizabeth Brashich scored on a rebound in the slot after Carly Thomas's initial shot was denied by Han.
The Mules notched the only goal of the final stanza at the 2:01 mark, as McKinley Karpa slid a loose puck under Han's trapper by the left post. The visitors nearly made it a three-goal contest at the midway point when Anna Cosentino hit the cross bar from the left side with her team on a power play.
Han made 10 saves during the win for the Panthers, while Cierra San Roman made 12 saves (33:39) and Savannah Shaw added 12 (26:01).
Middlebury held a 36-12 advantage in shots and went 1-7 on the power play, muting Colby's only chance with the player advantage.
Rachael St. Clair appeared in her 100th game in a Panther uniform.