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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Five Shutouts in a Row for Women's Hockey

Author: David Lindholm

Another game, another shutout. The Middlebury women's hockey team extended their run to five straight games to start the season and have not yet allowed a goal. The latest victory came at the expense of the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who came into the game with a 3-1 record on the season.

With the win, Middlebury extended their Division III unbeaten streak to 118 games, pouncing on the Pioneers early in the game and allowing the opposition only a few chances.

According to Head Coach Bill Mandigo, "I thought it was the best that we have played this season." The team couldn't hit good form at a better time as they face two of the biggest games they will play all season next weekend in Maine.

The Panthers dominated play from the outset and netted their first goal seven minutes into the game. Blueliner Rose Babst '05 scored at 7:03, with assists from Lindsay Jones '05 and Nina Kieves '02. Babst has been an important addition to the team this year, continually providing solid defensive play and also sparking the offense, already with three goals and an assist this year. The play of the first-years on the team has been encouraging for the future, with every one of the six first-years already having netted at least two points.

Later in the period Middlebury added the second goal of the match, coming from Amber Neil '03, her fourth goal. Assists went to Erin Neil '03 and senior captainLaurie Richmond. Neil leads the team in points, with four goals and eight assists, and Neil is not far behind in second with four and seven.

The second period proved to be frustrating as the Panthers struggled to find the net despite keeping the puck in Sacred Heart's zone for almost the entire time. The Panthers outshot the Pioneers 10-1 in that period, and also could not make use of two power-play opportunities. "Obviously we didn't score as many as goals we would have liked," said Mandigo, "but I think we played pretty well on the whole."

It was a flash of brilliance from Richmond that gave Middlebury their third goal. Stealing the puck in the Sacred Heart zone, Richmond proceeded to beat two defenders before slotting the puck in the upper corner from the top of the face-off circle. The unassisted goal was Richmond's third of the season.

The Panthers capped their scoring with 2:31 remaining in the game when Meghan Stone '05 took a pass from Kristin Reid '04 and scored, with the second assist from Babst.

Megan Hutchinson '02 played the bulk of the game in net, helped by Kati Madouras '04, the two of whom combined for the shutout. The Panthers were also able to win easily despite missing Angela Kapus '03 and Lorna Gifus '05, both out due to injury.

The Panthers now look forward to a very tough weekend, where they will travel to Maine to take on two strong sides in Bowdoin and Colby. Bowdoin is ranked second nationally, behind only Middlebury. Colby is considered to be in the top 20 teams in the nation and will also be a very difficult opponent for the Panthers.

"We'll do our normal things to get prepared for the games," said Mandigo. They're tough places to play; Bowdoin will be very excited, and we get off the bus and have to be ready. We've got to put the puck in the net."

The Panthers are averaging one goal for every seven shots, a percentage that they will need to improve on this season, especially this weekend. The Bowdoin match will be heated, as the Polar Bears ended Middlebury's winning streak of more than 100 Division III games last year as they fought the Panthers to a 3-3 tie.