Men’s Hockey Team Notches One in the Win Column Against Tufts

By HEATHER BOEHM

The men’s hockey team journeyed to their first away matchups of the season last weekend. The Panthers were taken out by conference rival Conn. College by a score of 5–0 on Friday, Dec 1. But, the young team finally notched a “W,” coming out on top over Tufts 2–0 on Saturday, Dec. 2. This victory over the Jumbos gives Middlebury some life and provides them with a bit of momentum to work with this weekend when they hit the road again.

On Friday, the Panthers were humbled by the Camels in their first away game of the year. The Camels capsized the Panther defense throughout the first stanza, slapping the puck past the Middlebury goalie twice. The first goal, at the five minute mark, was tallied after Bryan Ackil tipped in a perfect assist from Kevin Doyle. The hosts climbed to a two score lead when Chris Jellison created his own opportunity and was able to net a clean shot past the Panther goalie.

Middlebury’s offense only trailed the Camels by six shots on goal. But, the Conn. College goalie closed out a tremendous effort, rejecting all 28 of Middlebury’s shots on goal, giving the hosts their first shutout of the season.

The second period of the battle sealed out the game for the Camels. They recorded three more goals to their total, while denying the Panthers any opportunity to show up on the scoreboard. The Camels’ last goal was won off of a power play approaching the 20th minute of the sequence. This would cap off the final score, stopping the Panthers’ bleeding at 5–0.

But, the weekend was far from over for a Middlebury team eager for a triumph. Their hopes were realized on Saturday as the team headed to Medford, skating to a 2–0 win over Tufts.

Stephen Klein ’18 played a major role in the Panthers’ rewarding Saturday. Klein stood his ground and claimed his ninth career shutout, refusing all 37 of the Jumbos’ shots on goal.

Klein reflected on the team’s first successful conquest.

“It feels great to get our first win this season,” said Klein. “We had high expectations coming into the year and after a disappointing start it is really nice to have that weight lifted off our shoulders.”

The Panthers got the edge early on when they netted the puck just moments into the first stanza. Vincent Gisonti ’18 wasted no time closing out a rebound for his first goal of the season. After 12 minutes, Middlebury doubled its lead when Jimmy McKee ’19 recorded a shorthanded goal. McKee eased past the Jumbo defense and finished off a stellar assist from Alex Heinritz ’21, logging his first goal of the season.

The score held up and in a last desperate gasp as the clock wound down, Tufts pulled its goalie, Drew Hotte.

Middlebury’s defense proved impenetrable as they held on tight to preserve the shutout.

Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities in the second two periods, but neither was able to capitalize on them. This was apparent by the fact that both the Jumbos and Panthers went 0–3 on power play opportunities.

“The win definitely gives us the momentum we need to turn our season around,” said Klein. “Breaking out of a losing streak is never easy and finding a way to win came at a very critical point in our season. I have a lot of confidence in all the guys and I think we can be very successful moving forward.”

Hopefully, confidence is on their side as they venture out of Vermont once again this weekend to continue competition against conference opponents. The will face Hamilton tomorrow night and head on to Amherst’s Orr Rink Saturday afternoon.

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