The Middlebury men’s hockey team scored the game’s first two goals and held off a late charge from Tufts (0-3-0, 0-3-0), as the Panthers skated to a 2-1 NESCAC win on Friday in the team’s road opener. Middlebury (2-1-0, 2-1-0) returns to action on Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. contest at Connecticut College.
Middlebury got on the scoreboard first with 6:39 elapsed in the opening period. Owen Powers won an offensive zone faceoff following a five-minute major penalty on the Jumbos. Powers pushed the faceoff to his right for Antoine Belisle, as his got past goaltender Josh Sarlo for Belisle’s first career goal.
The Jumbos nearly tied the contest with a strong shot by Mason Babbidge that Middlebury netminder Brian Ketchabaw saved. The ensuing rebound came to Cory Gottfried who was crashing the net for a rebound, but Ketchabaw denied his bid as well.
The Panthers doubled their lead with 3:44 remaining in the first period. Danny Tighe won a faceoff back to the right point in Billy Dobensky. His shot was blocked by Ross Delabruere, but the deflection found Tighe who fired a shot by Sarlo for a 2-0 lead and his initial goal of the season
Middlebury’s best chance of the second period came in the early minutes after forcing a turnover at the attacking blueline. Mitchell Allen had a breakaway opportunity, but Sarlo stuck with him and stopped him on the forehand.
Tufts had a scoring bid with just over six minutes remaining when Hayden Smith found himself open in a three-on-one bid, but the feed for the one-timer was just out of his reach as the Panthers took a 2-0 edge into the intermission.
In the early minutes of the third, Middlebury had a great opportunity to extend its lead as Allen found himself open on the doorstep, but Sarlo slid to his left and made the save.
Tufts cut the deficit in half at the 7:23 mark of the third. A shot by Smith was blocked by the Panther defense, as the deflection came out to Tevor Spence who found Alex Lycett down near the goal as his shot beat Ketchabaw. The Jumbos pushed for the equalizer over the remainder of the contest, but Ketchabaw made five of his saves to preserve the win.
Ketchabaw finished with 24 saves in the victory, while Sarlo recorded 21 stops. The Jumbos held a narrow 25-23 edge in shots. Middlebury was 1-4 with the extra skater, while the Jumbos were 0-3.