MIDDLEBURY - For the second time in as many days, two of the top teams in Division III met at Orr Rink as the Panthers of Middlebury College and the Amherst College Lord Jeffs squared off in women's ice hockey action. Fifth-ranked Amherst (7-4-2/6-1-1 NESCAC) broke a tie late in the third period for a 2-1 win, handing No. 9 Middlebury (8-3-1/7-1-1) its first conference loss of the season.
The first game started off in nearly identical fashion, with Amherst out-shooting Middlebury 14-5 in shots on net in the opening period. Once again, Lord Jeff netminder Caroline Hu matched Panther goaltender Alexi Bloom to post a scoreless first period.
After killing off a penalty early in the second period, Amherst caught a break 7:48 into the frame on a power play of its own. After working the puck between Emily Vitale and Ashley Salerno near the blue line, Salerno fired a shot into traffic that changed course as it deflected off a Panther defender's shin guard, beating Bloom. Amherst junior Josie Fisher won't appear in the box score, but she was present on the crease causing all sorts of problems for Bloom and the Middlebury defense as the goal was scored. Barrett McBride picked up the second assist on the game's first score.
With 3:10 to play in the second, Middlebury grabbed an equalizer against the run of play. After holding Amherst off in its own zone, the Panthers scored on a scramble in front of the net following a shot that went wide and caromed back towards the goal mouth. Lauren Greer scored the equalizer, pushing the puck over Hu's left leg pad. Assists on the goal were awarded to Julia Ireland and Madison Styrbicki.
At 13:20 into the third period, Amherst rookie Courtney Baranek broke free and was hauled down from behind to give the Jeffs a crucial power play. Less than halfway into the power play, Courtney Hanlon scooped up a puck behind the Middlebury net and curled around the net to beat Bloom with the wrap-around for a 2-1 lead. Grabbing the helpers on Hanlon's score were McBride and Ellen Swiontkowski.
The Hanlon score proved to be the difference in the game, as the Lord Jeffs held off a late push by the Panthers for a second equalizer. Hu and the defense stood strong, as the Amherst goaltender finished the night with 15 saves. Bloom made 25 saves in the loss, just her second defeat of the year.
Wesleyan earned its first win over Middlebury in 36 tries as the Cardinals (3-6-3, 2-5-1) picked up a 4-3 overtime victory over the Panthers (4-5-2, 2-4-1) in Kenyon Arena. The loss snaps Middlebury's six-game unbeaten streak, as the home team held a 34-22 shot advantage in the game.
Wesleyan had the best chance to score in the first period, but Ryan White was denied breaking in all alone with a nice save from Nick BonDurant.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead 9:32 into the second period, when Keith Buehler scored from the left point. Wesleyan had a great chance to tack on some goals later in the period after Middlebury was assessed a five minute major penalty. The Cardinals were able to score a four-on-four goal early on, as John Guay scored with a blast from the right point. Middlebury killed the remainder of the penalty, with the final 2:00 being negated with a Cardinal penalty.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the third period, Middlebury cut the lead in half at 3:27 with a goal on a delayed penalty. Charlie Strauss broke in and found Martin Drolet, who quickly buried the shot for his team-leading sixth of the year.
The Panthers tied the game midway through the period at 10:59, when Drolet finished off a rebound after a shot by J.D. Vermette for his second of the day.
Wesleyan regained the lead at 13:42, when Donald Kleckner scored from the right side just after a face-off. Middlebury answered just 20 seconds later, with Tucker Donahoe scoring from a tough angle down low. The Cardinals had a great chance with 2:30 left, but Guay's shot hit the crossbar.
Guay had another great chance just seconds into overtime, but his deflection of a Keith Buehler pass went just wide. The third time was the charm for Guay seconds later, as he deflected in a shot from Chris MacDonald for the game-winner just 31 seconds into overtime.
BonDurant ended the game with 18 saves, while Glenn Stowell made 31 stops to earn the win.