NCAA D-III Quarterfinal Preview: Mass.-Dartmouth At Middlebury

Three-time defending national champion Middlebury makes its 13th straight appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals as it hosts Mass.-Dartmouth Saturday. The Panthers downed Fredonia, 9-0, on Wednesday to advance. The Corsairs, top seed in the east, were denied a chance to host the game because the school did not put in a bid to host with the NCAA.

This will be just the second meeting between the schools, with the Panthers earning a 3-1 win in a NCAA quarterfinal game at Middlebury.

Middlebury earned its way into the tourney by capturing its seventh NESCAC Championship and getting the conference’s automatic qualifier. Middlebury entered the NCAAs riding an eight game unbeaten streak (7-0-1), tied for the longest in the nation (St. Norbert). The defense ranks eighth nationally with a 2.24 GAA, while the penalty kill is ninth at .869. The Middlebury offense scores 3.66 goals/game, while the power play is sixth, clicking at .249.

The Panthers entered the 2007 tournament more NCAA wins than any other school in Division III hockey. Middlebury sports a 32-5-2 mark, having won three straight NCAA Championships. The Panthers have eight overall titles, including an NCAA record five consecutive crowns from ’95-’99. The team has a cumulative record of 301-46-22 (.846) over the past 13 years. Head coach Bill Beaney is now in his 20th season behind the bench, with more wins (485-188-35 – 27 seasons overall) than any other active coach in Division III men’s college hockey history.

Mickey Gilchrist leads the Panthers in scoring this season with a team-high 17 goals and 32 points to go along with his 15 assists. The junior also leads the team with seven power play and five game-winning goals. Gilchrist now has 110 points in 86 career games.

Tom Maldonado leads the team and ranks fourth in the league with .82 assists/game. The junior has three goals to go along with his 23 assists this season. Seniors John Sales (8-14-22), Brett Shirreffs (9-7-16), Evgeny Saidachev (4-11-15) and sophomore Jamie McKenna (4-11-15) round out the other leading scorers.

Ross Cherry and Doug Raeder have again split time between the pipes this season. Raeder is 12-3 with a 2.24 GAA, while Cherry is 6-4-3 with a 2.24 GAA.

Mass.-Dartmouth earned a spot in the NCAAs by earning an automatic bid with a 4-3 win over Wentworth in the ECAC Northeast title game. The Corsairs are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance, after winning at Geneseo last year before falling at Middlebury. They enter the game with a 25-2-1 overall record, earning a 14-1 mark in ECAC play.

Junior Jeff Grant is the team’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points on the season. He is second on the team with seven power play goals, while leading the squad with six game-winners. Seniors Kyle McCullough (17-31-48), Jim Foley (18-14-32), Peter Lindner (12-16-28) and Paul Carr (5-18-23) lead the team in scoring.

Jeff Green has played 98% of the minutes between the pipes this season for the Corsairs, sporting a 25-2-1 record with a 1.86 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

The winner of the game will advance to the semi-finals and finals next weekend at Wisconsin-Superior.