The Middlebury women's hockey team saw its run of three-straight NESCAC Championships come to an end, as Williams collected a 3-2 home win over the Panthers on Sunday. Second-seeded Middlebury (16-8-3) has been in the title game for the last five seasons and are the only team in conference history to win three-consecutive crowns. Top-seeded Williams (20-4-3) won its second NESCAC title in program history (2014) and receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The teams were even for most of the first period with the Panthers getting and early power play and the Ephs getting an opportunity with 12:25 on the clock. Middlebury opened the scoring with 3:30 remaining, as Jenna Letterie won a faceoff in the Williams's offensive zone. The Panthers maintained possession and Madie Leidt wired a shot from inside the top of the left circle for her team-leading 11th goal of the season. The hosts answered two minutes later, as Brynn Puppe's shot from the high slot eluded Middlebury goalie Lin Han through traffic to knot the game at 1-1.
The hosts used a power-play goal 3:35 into the middle frame to take their first lead of the game, Amanda Reisman redirected a pass from Mia Carroll into the net for a 2-1 edge. The Panthers tied the game at 2-2, scoring just nine seconds into a 4-on-3 power play at the 8:53 mark. Katherine Jackson kept the puck in the zone with a faceoff win, while Anna Zumwinkle's shot from the right point hit a body in front and squirted through Eph goalie Chloe Heiting with 11:07 on the clock.
Williams came close to taking the lead in the latter stages of the period when Gabi Montembeaugh broke in alone on Han, but the Panther goalie came up with the key stop.
The Ephs took a 3-2 lead 9:08 into the final period with a good pinch at the left point by Delaney Szlezngier. She carried the puck to the bottom of the circle, sent a pass across the slot to the far post where Meghan Halloran one-timed a shot inside the post. The Panthers had a power play minutes after the goal, but were unable to generate any quality scoring chances.
Middlebury made things interesting in the final minute with Han on the bench for an extra attacker and appeared to score the game-tying goal. Jenna Marotta put a shot on net from the right point that bounced around in front of the Williams net and eventually crossed the goal line with 56.3 seconds on the clock. Following a meeting by the officials, the tally was waved off.
For the Panthers, Han made 19 saves, while Heiting had 23 stops for the Ephs.
Middlebury held a slight 25-22 edge in shots and went 1-6 on the power play, while Williams went 1-3 with the extra skater.