Late Goal Lifts Middlebury Past Wesleyan in NESCAC Opener
Courtesy Middlebury Athletic Communications
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Chris Steele scored with 3:03 remaining in the third period, lifting Middlebury to a 2-1 win over Wesleyan in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game in Kenyon Arena.
The Panthers (13-9-3) advance to the NESCAC semifinals next Saturday at either Bowdoin or Amherst, while the Cardinals finish their year at 12-11-2.
Middlebury's first shot of the game came at the 14:00 mark of the first period, when Glenn Stowell (27 saves) denied Louis Belisle on a quick breakaway attempt. Stowell came up big less than two minutes later, stopping Charlie Strauss after a great feed Mike Longo. The Panthers went on the power play at the 16:02 mark, but could not get a shot past Stowell. The period ended with Middlebury holding a slight 6-5 shots advantage.
Wesleyan had three power play opportunities in the second period, unable to cash in as Panther netminder Dan Fullam (11 saves) kept it a scoreless game. The Panthers scored the game's first goal with 2:09 left in the second period. Charlie Strauss found Derek Pimental in the slot from behind the goal, with the puck squirting free to Tom Cantwell on the right side. Cantwell quickly snapped a puck into the back of the net for his second of the season to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. The period ended with a 10-2 shots advantage for Middlebury, 16-7 overall.
Middlebury missed on a power play opportunity at 4:19 the third, with Cardinal Tommy Hartnett shooting just wide with a snapshot minutes later. Wesleyan tied the game at 11:14 with James Albrecht scoring his fourth of the year. Brad Improta sent in a shot from the right point that bounced to Albrecht wide open at the left point. He took one quick stride before snapping a shot into the top right corner of the net to knot the game at 1-1.
Steele's game-winner came as a Wesleyan defender dove to poke the puck out of the zone. Steele picked it up and skated through the right face-off circle with some nice moves before snapping a shot into the top right corner of the net for his third of the year. Wesleyan pulled Stowell late, but could not muster up any great scoring to opportunities. Middlebury finished the game with a 29-12 advantage in shots.