Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury scored twice in a span of 1:32 midway through the third period, lifting the Panthers to a 5-3 triumph Tuesday over Norwich in a match-up of nationally-ranked programs. Ninth-ranked Middlebury (10-5-2) returns to NESCAC action on Friday when they travel to Wesleyan at 7:00 p.m., while the fourth-ranked Cadets (14-4-1) are in action at Southern Maine.
The first period had a good pace from the opening faceoff without a whistle for the initial 6:53 of play. The hosts held a 7-6 edge in shots with both teams getting quality chances in the final minute. Middlebury’s Janka Hlinka won a puck battle behind the net and centered a pass to Lizzie Sheline, who swept a shot on goal that Norwich net minder Laurie King denied with her right pad. The Cadets countered in last 4.9 seconds when Sarah Schwenzfeier took a shot directly off a faceoff at the start of the power play, which was stopped by Panther goalie Lin Han.
Middlebury started the second period with a solid penalty kill and later took advantage of their first power play of the contest. Carly Watson fired a shot on goal that was deflected in by Sheline at the 2:52 mark. Norwich countered late in the period, scoring off the rush when Schwenzfeier skated up the right wing and lifted a shot over Han’s shoulder. The Cadet goal came with 1:53 on the clock, but the Panthers jumped back in front 2-1 in the final second. Watson took a shot at the high slot that eluded King for her fourth tally of the year with .7 seconds remaining.
Norwich tied the game 2-2 at the 4:35 mark of the final stanza when Amanda Conway tallied a power-play goal, cashing in on a two-on-one break. Middlebury forged back into the lead when Jessica Young jammed in a rebound at the right post, during a delayed penalty against the Cadets. The hosts took advantage of the ensuing power play, scoring 1:32 later when Sheline again deflected in a shot from the point by Watson. Schwenzfeier closed the gap to 4-3 with goal on a scramble in front of the Panther net with 7:53 left in regulation. Norwich pulled King for an extra attacker with 1:18 on the clock, but Middlebury iced the victory when Young deposited the puck into an empty Cadet net. The goal came at the 19:48 mark and was her team-leading 10th of the season.
Han earned the win for the Panthers with 18 saves, while King made 14 for the Cadets. Middlebury was a perfect 2-2 on the power play, while Norwich went 2-4 and finished the game with a 21-19 edge in shots.