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Women’s Hockey Splits Double-Dipper

Middlebury+prepares+to+take+the+ice+before+its+game+against+Connecticut+College+on+Saturday%2C+Dec.+2%2C+at+Kenyon+Arena.+
Middlebury prepares to take the ice before its game against Connecticut College on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Kenyon Arena.

Middlebury prepares to take the ice before its game against Connecticut College on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Kenyon Arena.

Emma Stapleton

Emma Stapleton

Middlebury prepares to take the ice before its game against Connecticut College on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Kenyon Arena.

By SEBASTIAN SANCHEZ

Last Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, the No. 7 Middlebury Women’s Hockey blanked No. 8 Connecticut College in Friday’s contest while losing an overtime heartbreaker the next day on Saturday. The Panthers move to 3–3 with only a game against Castleton remaining before the Christmas break. While they sit .500, all the team’s losses came to opponents ranked in the top 10.

In the first contest the Panthers won 3–0. Neither team scored in the opening period, although Elizabeth Wulf ’18 and Katherine Jackson ’19 had a two-on-one opportunity. As they skated with an advantage toward the Camels’ goal Jackson’s backhand attempt was deflected and Maddie Leidt ’21’s rebound shot was swatted away by the Camels’ keeper Bailey Mertz. Conn. College had a chance to capitalize on three separate power-plays, but they could not find the net.

Heading into the second period, the Panthers took the lead when they capitalized on a five-on-three powerplay opportunity. The dynamic duo of Jessica Young ’18 and Maddie Winslow ’18 connected when Young skated to the right side of the ice, touched a pass to Winslow on the left post where she deflected the puck into the back of the net — the first second-period goal allowed by the Camels all season.

The Panthers solidified their lead in the third stanza with two insurance goals. Jackson recorded the first of them for her team-leading fifth goal of the season when she one-timed a pass from Winslow. Young added to the lead when she picked up her own rebound in front of the net, circled the net and fired the puck past the goalie.

Lin Han ’20 made 22 saves in her second shutout of the season, including a sprawling save to her right and several other incredible stops to keep the Camels at bay. The Panthers improved to 3–2, while Conn. College suffered their first loss of the season.

“We responded well in the third period and played our best period of the game,” said Wulf after Friday’s matchup went final. “Conn. College is a good game and always tough to play. Going into the third up 1–0, we knew the next goal would be huge so we did a good job of putting the game away in the third scoring two goals. We also stayed out of the box in the third which helped,” she said.

Saturday’s contest was a thriller, as the Panthers got down basically at puck-drop and then had to dig themselves out of a two goal hole.

Just two minutes into the opening period, Conn. College got on the board when a Camel beat a Middlebury defender behind the net and connected with a teammate, blasting the puck into the net for a 1–0 lead. The Camels doubled the score when a backhanded feed from Kaylyn Paiva was connected by Elena Gualtieri.

Ellie Barney ’21 responded with her first career goal, assisted by team captain Janka Hlinka ’18 and Young. Trailing by one, the Panthers controlled the puck for the three minutes, winning several face-offs, including one by Hlinka to set up the game tying goal. Leidt scored, marking her second goal of the series thanks to a beautiful assist by Young and knotting the score with five minutes left in the first.

With 12:25 left in the second stanza, Middlebury took a 3–2 lead when Leidt centered a pass to Young, who one-timed the feed from the top of the left faceoff circle into the back of the net.

Conn. College mustered an equalizing score though when they fought for a rebound off Han’s pads and sent it into the back of the net with 6:37 left to play. That score would hold as the contest headed into overtime with the game tied at three apiece.

For the first three minutes, the Panthers and Camels battled to possess the puck — a shot by Sidney Portner ’21 went wide, Barney blasted the puck towards the Camels’ net that was saved by Mertz and a shot by the guests was saved by Han. However, a shot by Kalyn Paiva that was blocked by Han would be rebounded and then passed to Ein Dilon, who tapped the puck inside the net for the clinching goal for the Camels. Middlebury outshot Conn. College 30-28, but Bailey Mertz picked up 27 stops for win.

“Just like [Wulf] said, we played our best period on Friday at the end of the game,” said Hlinka. “It shows that we can figure out how to regroup when we’re not playing well and I think that is very important. Conn is always a good game to play and managing to get that next important goal in the third was critical. As for Saturday, we did do a better job of staying out of the box, but also getting more shots on net.”

The Panthers return to action on Dec. 9 against Castleton for their last home game before Christmas break and a trip to Amherst College for an away Nescac series.

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