Men’s Hockey Sees Mixed Results in Maine

By Andrew Rigas

The men’s hockey team defeated Colby 4-2 on Friday, Jan. 22, starting last weekend’s trip to Maine on a high note, before falling 2-1 to Bowdoin the next. The Panthers hold steady in fourth place in the NESCAC, still in position to host a game in the NESCAC playoffs.

Middlebury entered Alfond Rink as the favorite after handling the Mules 4-0 in the first matchup and took a lead 6:49 into the game. From behind the net, Ronald Fishman ’16 faked a pass to the front of the net, brought the puck around himself and elevated a backhand shot to the top-right corner of the net. David Belluche ’18 and Evan Neugold ’16 assisted on the goal, Neugold’s team leading ninth on the season.

1:46 into the second period, Kamil Tkaczuk ’19 set up Brendan McGovern ’16 who put the Panthers ahead 2-0. Seven minutes later, Colby’s Kevin Doherty was whistled for high sticking. A little over halfway through the power play, Jonathan Sdao broke free for the Mules and put one past Stephen Klein ’18 for a shorthanded goal. The Mules tied the game up later in the same period, and the scoreboard showed a tie game entering the final period of regulation.

“Second periods have been our Achilles heel this year. It has been a real challenge to keep the momentum we gain in the first. It is all about putting it together for a full 60 minutes,” Alternate Captain Terrance Goguen ’16 said. “When we get in a rut, our coaches remind us to keep it simple and get the puck in deep. When we try and do too much, we screw up.”

Andrew Neary ’17 broke the tie 5:26 into the third period when he deflected Fishman’s shot from the point past the Colby goalie for his first career goal.
“It [Neary’s goal] was, frankly, one of the ugliest of the season,” Goguen said. “But, at the end of the day, they don’t ask ‘how,’ they ask ‘how many.’”

Another Colby penalty interrupted its comeback attempt with 1:30 remaining, and the Mules pulled their goalie to make it 5-on-5 again. Zach Haggerty ’16 sealed the deal with an empty-net goal, giving the Panthers a 4-2 victory and a season sweep over the Mules. Klein made 31 saves in net to win his fourth game of the season.

In the first meeting between Middlebury and Bowdoin, the Panthers took a commanding 4-1 lead in the first period, but Bowdoin fought all the way back to earn a 4-4 tie. Bowdoin struck first this time when, midway through the first period, Klein stopped a Polar Bear shot but Mark Sullivan got to the rebound and beat Klein.

Vincent Gisonti ’18 tied the game for the Panthers 10:40 into the second period. From the right side, Fishman slung the puck through traffic and Gisonti got his stick on it to redirect it into the net.

Coming out of the locker room for the third period, Paul Falvey ’16 almost put the Panthers ahead but could not quite touch it past the Bowdoin netminder Peter Cronin. Mike Najjar ’17 ripped a slap shot with a little over seven minutes remaining, but Cronin nabbed it with his glove. With less than two minutes left, the puck found Conroy racing down the middle. He carried the puck to the left side then passed right to Cody Tedesco, who beat Klein for the go-ahead goal.

The Panthers outshot the Polar Bears 40-29, but could not beat Cronin in the waning seconds, who ended up with 39 saves on the night in the 2-1 Bowdoin win.

“We had a great possession game. We took great shots from the point, but need to generate a little more traffic in front of the net and the dirty areas. We are getting the chances we just need to convert and bear down in front,” Goguen said. “Finishing has been a big theme in practice and will come in handy in these last 8 games. In a league like the NESCAC, where ever game is even money, it comes down to who can convert those dirty ones.”
Middlebury returns home to host Connecticut College and Tufts on Jan. 29 and 30 respectively.

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