The Middlebury men’s hockey team scored the game’s first three goals, as the Panthers skated to a 4-1 NESCAC win on Friday at Colby in their season opener. Middlebury (1-0-0, 1-0-0) plays in Maine again on Saturday with a 4:00 p.m. contest against Bowdoin.
The hosts had an opportunity to open the scoring with a power play midway through the opening period, but the Panthers muted the chance and didn’t allow a shot on goal. Middlebury had an offensive opportunity with 8:24 on the clock as Owen Powers created a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck into the Mule zone. Powers fired a shot from the left circle, forcing goalie Andrew Tucci to make the save.
Colby had a chance just over a minute later following a scramble in front of the Panther net. Nick O’Connor jumped on the loose puck in the slot and fired a rising shot that Middlebury goalie Brian Ketchabaw snared with his glove. Ketchabaw also denied O’Connor on a 3-on-1 in the final minute, sending the teams into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.
In the middle frame, the Mules came close to netting the first goal of the contest while on a power play. Mike Morrisey was left alone on the doorstep and tried to tuck the puck behind Ketchabaw, but the Panther reached out and made the save. Ketchabaw came up big again minutes later, making a save on Spencer Hewson on a 2-on-1 rush.
Middlebury struck for a pair of late goals in the second period, as Powers fired a loose puck in the slot through the legs of Tucci at the 14:35 mark to open the scoring. Charlie Parsons doubled the lead two minutes later, as he one-timed a pass from Tyler Capello into an empty net after the Mule goalie turned the puck over in the corner.
In the final period, a key play by Parsons to intercept a clearing attempt and keep the puck in the zone, resulting in Middlebury’s third goal. He sent a pass back to the point and Brendan Dawson wired a shot from the high slot into the upper-corner of the net with 3:28 remaining.
Colby picked up its only goal of the contest 39 seconds later when O’Connor put in a rebound, but the Panthers iced the victory when the Mules pulled Tucci for an extra attacker. Emack Bentley flipped the puck into the empty net from center ice for first career goal with 2:09 showing on the clock.
In goal for Middlebury, Ketchabaw earned his first collegiate win with 26 saves, while Tucci collected 31 stops for the Mules. The Panthers held a 35-27 edge in shots on goal, while each team came up empty with the man advantage. Middlebury had two chances, while the Mules had three opportunities.