Second-ranked Middlebury recorded its fourth shutout in seven games, as the Panthers skated to a 4-0 victory over visiting Utica on Saturday. Middlebury (5-0-2) returns to action on January 7, hosting SUNY Potsdam at 4:00 p.m., while the Pioneers (2-5-0) entertain Canton a day later at 7:00 p.m.
Middlebury jumped out to the early lead, taking advantage of an early power play. Madie Leidt ripped a shot from left circle that Utica goalie Bria Reilly turned aside, but Jenna Letterie was on the doorstep to knock in the rebound with 4:02 expired. Letterie struck again on the power play 11:10 showing on the clock, again cleaning up a blast by Leidt that Reilly stopped.
In the middle period, the hosts tacked on another score just after a power play expired, increasing their lead to 3-0. Anna Zumwinkle found Sidney Portner in the left circle, who wired a shot over Reilly's shoulder with 13:16 on the clock. The Pioneers had their best chance just past the midway point of the stanza, as Georgie Santullo's shot from the slot hit the cross bar. Middlebury's defense was stellar in the period, preventing Utica from recording a shot on goal.
In the final 20 minutes, the lead blossomed to 4-0 for the Panthers on a goal by Alexis Ryan. Mary Thompson sent a cross-ice pass from the right side to Ryan at the far point, who skated to the top of the circle and wristed a shot in her for first tally of the year. The visitors had a chance to spoil Lin Han's shutout bid in the closing minutes, but the Middlebury goalie blockered away a shot by Carolyn Whitney to secure the shutout.
Han stopped all 12 shots she faced for her second shutout of the year, while Reilly recorded 41 saves for the visitors. The hosts went 2-6 on the power play and killed off the only opportunity for the Pioneers.