MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Colby (15-8-1) played even with Middlebury (23-2) for better than two and a half periods, until the Panthers’ vaunted power play spurred them to a 3-1 lead. Genevieve Triganne provided a heroic effort in net for Colby, stopping all 34 Middlebury shots in the first two frames before allowing three goals in 12 shots in the third.
Middlebury finally broke through Triganne at 8:21 of the third period. Panther all-star Emily Quizon broke down the right wing, and her slapshot rebounded to Cellino in the high slot. Cellino’s shot, through traffic, beat Triganne for the 1-0 lead.
“They have a great goalie,” said Middlebury coach Bill Mandigo. “They are very well coached. I give them all the credit in the world.”
“Our game plan was to not let them transition because they are a very quick team, we wanted to slow the game down,” said Colby coach Dave Venditti. “We came in saying ‘we want to go into the 3rd period 0-0 and give ourselves a chance’ and we accomplished that.”
The Mules responded 14 seconds later as Rebecca Julian beat Middlebury goalie Kate Kogut low to the stickside.
“We scored, we were very excited and they came at us full force,” Kogut said.
Middlebury scored the game winner on the powerplay when Tania Kenny took a slapshot from the blue line and Erika Nakamura deflected it, beating Triganne low to the goalie’s gloveside.
“When you get the puck in the zone you can hammer away, you have to hope eventually someone will fight for a loose puck or tip a shot,” Mandigo said.
The Panthers added an insurance goal when Cellino muscled inside a Colby defender, lugging the player and puck in close on Triganne, who made the initial save.
“It was a good breakout right from the start, Quizon gave me the puck, I just went down the right side, tried to beat the goalie, she came up big,” Cellino said. “Quizon put it in.”
The first two periods saw Middlebury take 53 shots, of which 34 were on net. The shot chart shows Colby forced the Panthers to shoot from the perimeter.
“Their goal is to pack it in front so all the shots are from outside,” Kogut said. “They have a very, very good goalie. She played amazing. She had an excellent game. They do a really great job clearing rebounds.”
“We had to bring it up top a lot,” said Cellino. “Colby knew how to play defense against us.”
Kogut thwarted Colby leading scorer Laura Anning with a great save of her own at 18:20 of the second period when Anning worked in for a blast from just outside the crease.
“I was moving across the net, (Anning) shot form the low slot,” Kogut said. “I happened to catch it with my eye, threw my glove up, miraculously got it and had no idea where it was. My D got it away from the net.”
Colby entered the NESCAC semifinal having set a team record with its 15th win against Amherst. They have a young team, their top seven scorers are freshman, and they are backstopped by an outstanding goalie in the sophomore Triganne. Venditti was recently named NESCAC Coach of the Year.
“He’s the NESCAC Coach of the Year for a reason,” Mandigo said. “They are very well coached, well prepared. He gets the most out of his kids. To me, that is the highest praise you can give anyone. They play hard, they do a great job in the defensive zone, and they clear pucks.”
The win advances Middlebury to the NESCAC final on Sunday. The loss ended Colby’s season.