Author: Kate Nerenberg
The Panther women's hockey team had its work cut out for itself last week, despite the rest of the school enjoying February break. They faced and beat four tough opponents on the road. In Minnesota, the Panthers handed Gustavus Adolphus College a 5-1 loss and hammered Augsburg College 6-0. The team extended their New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) league unbeaten streak to 126 games with a 3-2 win over Trinity and a 5-1 win over Wesleyan.
On Sunday, Feb. 3, the Panthers rebounded from its Mahantanville loss with a 5-1 defeat of Gustavus Adolphus in Minnesota. Angela Kapus '03 put the Panthers on the scoreboard at 10:55 into the first period. Less than one minute later, Erin Neil '03 increased the lead to 2-0 with an assist from Audrey Pellerin '03.
Gustavus Adolphus' Ellen Doyle brought her team to within one goal at 16:54 of the first period. That was the closest Middlebury would allow the game to get, however, before Amber Neil '03 scored twice in the third period. Kristin Reid '04 sealed the win with a goal at 17:00.
In another non-conference game in Minnesota against Augsburg, Megan Stone '05 started off the scoring in a five-on-three power play 7:19 into the first period. Before the end of the period, E. Neil and Nico Kieves '02 both found the back of the net to increase the lead to 3-0.
The Panthers had a burst of scoring in the third period after a scoreless second period. Rose Babst '05 started the flurry of goals at 12:54 off a pass from Kapus. A. Neil made it 5-0 at 14:08 while Stone scored her second goal at 16:10. Against Augsburg last year Middlebury had its most important win, the one which gave it the national championship.
"We played two strong games in Minnesota," commented Assistant Coach Caroline Trudeau. "It was rougher play but we didn't retaliate to that style. [Since the Manhattanville loss,] we don't take winning for granted. The team has picked up their play and stepped up to the challenge."
On Saturday, Feb. 9, Middlebury defeated Trinity 3-2 in a close NESCAC match-up. The Panthers started off strong, with two goals in the first period, by Abigail Lamb '04 and E. Neil. The Bantams closed in on Middlebury with a goal at 7:46 into the second period. A. Neil put the Panthers ahead 3-1 with a goal at 15:25. In a hard-fought third period, Trinity scored short-handed at 19:10 but Middlebury held on for the win.
The next day, the Panthers easily handled Wesleyan, 5-1. Middlebury raced to a 3-0 lead with two goals in the first period and one in the second before Liz Adams of Wesleyan could respond at 12:30. Only 50 seconds later, Nina Kieves '02 took a pass from Laurie Richmond '02 and put the Panthers ahead by three. A. Neil ended the game on a high note for the Panthers by putting the puck between the posts with only four seconds remaining.
Although the latest national poll has the Panthers sitting on top, Trudeau says that the team is not looking beyond this weekend when the team faces both Bowdoin on Saturday and Colby on Sunday. Middlebury, along with its two opponents this weekend, all have a shot at the top seed in the NESCAC conference tournament.
Although the post season nears, the Panthers are only looking to its next opponent. "We are taking one game at a time. This weekend is huge for us. Its like the playoffs right now with Bowdoin and Colby coming up," Trudeau said. The Panthers will be on the ice at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
In Minnesota, Women's Puck at Home in Two Convincing Wins
Author: Kate Nerenberg