MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — In their first game since taking the number-one ranking in the USCHO.com Division III poll, Middlebury pulled away in the third period from Hamilton to earn a 3-1 win that maintained its position at the top of the NESCAC.
The game started quickly for the Panthers, as Middlebury’s Kevin Cooper gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game, putting the puck past Hamilton goalie Matt Jones.
The Panthers held the lead for ten minutes until Hamilton’s Rob Gorden tallied a shorthanded goal to tie the game. With the Panthers on the power play, a Middlebury shot deflected back out towards the point and Gordon corralled the bouncing puck. He broke towards Middlebury netminder Christian Carlsson, deked and forced Carlsson to go down, and then lifted the puck over him into the net.
The second period saw the Panthers and Continentals go back and forth, but both goalies stood strong. However, just three minutes into the third, Cooper again broke in on Jones, fired a shot, found the rebound and fired again. The puck remained in the crease, and Adam Foote, who spun around and was falling to the ice, swung his stick around to lift the puck over the sprawling Hamilton goalie for a 2-1 lead.
With four minutes left in the game, Matt Snyder received a pass from Matt Dunn and skated into the zone on Jones’ right. Snyder brought the puck to a low angle while shaking off a defender and fired a shot on net that ended up in the back of the net, surprising Jones and Snyder himself.
Middlebury held on as the Continentals opted for the extra attacker, coming away with a 3-1 win.
For Middlebury, the win kept it tied for first place with a game in hand in the NESCAC at 12-0-1 (16-1-1 overall); number-four Bowdoin, which downed number-five Norwich, also has 25 points from a 11-0-3 record.
Hamilton drops to 9-4-1 in league play and 10-8-1 overall.