MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — With a 5-1 victory over St. Michael’s, the top-ranked Middlebury Panthers finished off their regular season undefeated in the NESCAC. The Panthers used a stifling defense and three first-period goals to earn the win on Senior Night at Kenyon Arena, while sending local rival St. Mike’s to its third straight loss.
Middlebury jumped out to a quick lead just 14 seconds into the game behind a goal by Rob Chisholm, assisted by Leva Doria and Matt Dunn. At 6:12 of the first period, Tim Graham put Middlebury up 2-0 on assists from Patrick Nugent and Mike Kennedy, notching what proved to be the game winning goal.
At 14:46 J.F. Duchesne fed Kevin Cooper at the top of the crease; Cooper deflected it past Purple Knights’ goalie Simon Theberge for a 3-0 margin.
The second period saw St. Mike’s get on the board when Middlebury netminder Christian Carlsson was unable to freeze a puck in the crease and Andy Welgos put it home. Middlebury answered with a goal by Levi Doria at 10:12, again giving the Panthers a three-goal lead.
The rest of the period saw Middlebury and St. Mike’s play solid defensive hockey in a middle stanza that featured only 16 combined shots.
The third period continued the defensive theme, as Middlebury held St. Mike’s to only four shots, and added an insurance goal by Andy Campbell at 15:37.
For the Knights, Theberge made 26 saves, while for Middlebury, Carlsson and Marc Scheuer combined for 15 saves.
St. Mike’s now stands at 9-13-1 overall and 5-12-1 in the ECAC East. Number-one Middlebury moves to 22-1-1 overall and 18-0-1 in the NESCAC. In their two previous seasons as NESCAC champions and in their five consecutive NCAA championship seasons, never once did Middlebury finish the regular season without a conference loss.
The Panthers now have a bye week before hosting the NESCAC championships on March 1-3.