MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — In a meeting between brothers Jeff Beaney of University of Southern Maine and Bill Beaney of Middlebury, elder sibling Bill coached his Panthers to a 6-3 victory, but not without a scare from younger brother Jeff as the Huskies made a strong bid for an upset.
In the home opener for the defending NESCAC champion, Middlebury jumped out to a 1-0 lead just seven seconds into the game, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Senior co-captain Ryan Constantine took the puck off a pass from Adam Foote and ripped a shot from the point on USM goalie Matt Collaton’s left side that found the back of the net. Yet over the next 20 minutes it would be the only one of 18 Middlebury shots that the rookie Collaton did not stop, as he held a potent Panther attack in check.
Southern Maine silenced the home fans with two goals later in the first period that gave the Huskies a surprising 2-1 lead. The first came at 11:47 of the first as the Panther defense left the puck in front of Middlebury goalie Marc Scheuer, who was unable to stop the shot from John Lauziere. Then, while on the power play after a holding penalty to USM’s Matt Withers, the Panthers were unable to keep the puck in the zone and USM’s Ethan Burnes skated down, beat the Middlebury defender by riding him off the play, and put the puck past Scheuer for the shorthanded goal.
Five minutes into the second period, Middlebury tied the game at 2-2 on freshman Tim Graham’s first career goal. Graham deked several times as he came in on Collaton before the USM netminder committed and he was able to put the puck in the net. Just two minutes later, Middlebury regained the lead, as Adam Foote put a puck top shelf on the far side of the net.
The Panther lead would be short-lived, as just 12 seconds later Scheuer found himself faced with several Huskies closing in on him quickly; the defensive breakdown allowed Scott Irwin to tie the game up again. A goaltending switch by Middlebury brought in senior Christian Carlsson, who just a few minutes after coming into the game made a beautiful diving save to his right on a breakaway, keeping the score knotted at 3-3.
Six minutes into the third period, Middlebury again took the lead as Andrew Helming put a shot that came across the crease from Adam Foote. Then at 11:27 of the third Constantine picked up a loose puck in front of the net, passed it to Grayson Fertig who sent it to Matt Snyder, who buried it for a 5-3 margin. Finally Helming used some nifty stickhandling to beat Collaton for the second time that period, with the Panthers’ sixth and final goal coming at 13:11 of the third. The Middlebury defense, which had looked shaky early on in the game, held the Huskies to only three shots in the final stanza for the win.
For the Huskies, who drop to 0-4 on the young season, Lauziere and Burnes both picked up a goal and an assist. Collaton finished the day with 33 saves, many of them amazing, while a late goalie change for USM allowed Jaymee Smith to make two saves in five minutes. Middlebury, which moved to 3-0 in league play and 4-1 overall, was led by Helming’s two goals and an assist, and a goal and two assists from Foote. Scheuer made six saves, while Carlsson stopped three shots.