Championship Game: Middlebury 5, St. Thomas 0

Middlebury won its second straight national title and seventh in 11 seasons with a 5-0 victory over St. Thomas in the 2005 Division III national championship game.

In a penalty-filled first stanza, the Panthers got their first goal at 9:25. After a scramble behind the Tommie net, Eric LaFreniere won a battle for the loose puck and put a centering pass onto the stick of freshman Mickey Gilchrist, who wristed the puck past St. Thomas goaltender Zach Sikich.

The Panthers made it 2-0 on the power play at 16:42. Defenseman Tom Maldonado’s pass from the point found John Sales, who quickly got the puck to senior defenseman Patrick Nugent in the high slot. Nugent’s shot trickled though Sikich’s pads and into the net.

The first few big scoring opportunities of the second period belonged to St. Thomas, but the Tommies couldn’t capitalize. Freshman goaltender Ross Cherry robbed Kevin Rollwagen at 3:28, and at 10:22 of the second, Panther forward Levi Doria was able to sweep the puck out of danger after Cherry was down and out.

Middlebury made it 3-0 a few seconds later. At 11:01, sophomore John Sales stole the puck in the St. Thomas zone and floated a wrist shot from the near face-off circle that went over the right shoulder of Sikich.

With just 5.3 seconds left in the period, the Panthers made it 4-0 on a power play goal from Sales, his second of the game. Brian Phinney’s’s shot from the far point was stopped by Sikich, but the rebound popped over Sikich’s shoulder and bounced near the goal line, where Sales swatted it home.

Shots on goal through two periods were 28-20 in favor of Middlebury.

Darwin Hunt put the nail in the coffin at with a short-handed tally at 7:33. He took a cross-ice pass from Phinney and put a wrist shot into the pads of Sikich, who didn’t handle the shot cleanly. The puck banked off the St. Thomas netminder and into the net.

It was almost 6-0 a little over three minutes later, when Samuel Driver put the puck past Sikich from a tight angle on a five-on-three man advantage But Richie Fuld had been whistled for interference just before the puck crossed the goal line.

St. Thomas was unable to convert on the ensuing power play, even though it was extended to a five-on-three advantage after Tom Maldonado went for tripping a minute and 18 seconds later.

Final shots on goal were 35-29 in favor of Middlebury.