Men’s Hockey Enters into Postseason

By Charlie Ascher

The Middlebury men’s hockey team finished the regular season by going .500 in back-to-back away NESCAC games. The Panthers were shut out by 10th-ranked Amherst 4-0 on Friday, Feb 20 and then turned around to beat Hamilton 3-1. Middlebury’s final regular season record sits at 10-11-3 and 7-8-3 in the NESCAC, putting them in the seventh seed for the NESCAC playoffs.

The Panthers drew a tough matchup for the first game of the crucial final regular-season weekend as they were tasked with playing the Lord Jeffs on the road. 

Amherst scored the first goal of the game 9:32 in and did not look back. Amherst’s goalie made several incredible saves to keep the Panthers off of the scoreboard. It was 2-0 Amherst at the end of the second as the Jeffs got another puck past Middlebury goaltender Stephen Klein ’18. One minute into the third Amherst struck again, prompting Middlebury Head Coach Bill Beaney to pull Klein in favor of Mike Peters ’15. 

Despite some good pressure in the third, Middlebury was unable to get on the scoreboard while Amherst notched one more goal to make it a 4-0 final score. Middlebury was unable to convert on five power play opportunities in the game and were outshot 28 to 25.

After the difficult loss to Amherst the Panthers traveled to Clinton, NY for a 3:00 p.m. faceoff against Hamilton on Saturday. The game against Hamilton started off much better for Middlebury. The Panthers were able to put on sustained pressure in the Hamilton zone and finally broke through on the power play 13:20 into the first period. After the Hamilton goaltender stopped a long shot from Terrance Goguen ’16, Brendan McGovern ’16 managed to scoop up the rebound and slip it inside the near post. The goal was the first Middlebury goal of the weekend and the start of a very good night for McGovern. 

Hamilton equalized 6:10 into the second period as they got a shot past Middlebury goaltender Liam Moorfield-Yee ’16. Middlebury continued to press after the Hamilton equalizer and were rewarded with two McGovern goals in a two-minute span. McGovern hounded the slot area and was rewarded when he picked up rebounds off of Evan Neugold ’16 and Jake Charles ’16 shots and put both away, one at the 11:23 mark of the second and the next at the 13:13 mark to complete the hat trick and double his season goal total. 

16:13 into the second a bit of a tussle occurred as both Cameron Romoff ’17 and a Hamilton player were sent off with game misconducts for facemasking. The Middlebury penalty kill was strong all game as they killed off all six Hamilton power plays. The Panthers were able to hold on for the 3-1 win as Moorfield-Yee picked up his second win of the season despite having to be replaced by Peters a little more than halfway through the second period.

With their final regular season record of 10-11-3, the Panthers have secured the seventh seed in the NESCAC playoffs. Middlebury now faces the tough task of playing the same Amherst team that just beat them 4-0, this time in an away quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, Feb. 28. 

McGovern commented on the team’s prospects in the Amherst game. 

“We need to go over the video from [this past weekend’s] game,” McGovern said. “This will definitely bring to light some of the issues we had. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of uncharacteristically bad plays. We need to play a smarter game with more energy. Fortunately, we have a week to correct those issues.”