Middlebury, VT– Williams College (12-6-3, 9-3-3 NESCAC) blanked the Middlebury Panthers (3-16-2, 3-12-0 NESCAC) 3-0. Sophomore netminder Michael Pinios posted a shutout against the Panthers.
The Ephs won both matchups against the Panthers last season, overcoming a 2-0 deficit in both occasions. This season, the Ephs got the early two goal lead within the first three minutes of the game.
"The guys have really worked on getting into the mindset to come out quickly so it was nice to see that change tonight and get those early goals," head coach Bill Kangas said.
Junior David Italiano hit the top corner with a backhand shot after senior Tyler Young set him up with a breakaway pass at 1:27. Just over two minutes later, senior Wyatt Glover extended the Williams lead. Senior Alex Haggerty hit a pass clear across the crease and Glover tipped it in for this third goal of the season.
After the dust of the two goals settled, both teams began to play much more evenly. Williams continued to press the Panthers and spent most of the first period in their zone. Williams, however, struggled to get many shots off on Middlebury netminder, junior Stephen Klein and lead Middlebury in shots by only two, 9-7.
Both teams came extremely close to scoring a point in the second period with two shots that skimmed the pipes. The period kicked off with a five versus three, advantage Middlebury. Senior Wyatt Glover was called for high sticking just 54 seconds into the period and senior Tyler Young was called for tripping at 2:27. The Ephs hold the second to last record for penalty kills at 75.3% but they killed the 5v3 with ease.
The Ephs nearly extended their lead to three when senior George Hunkele caught the crossbar on a shot at 13:40. They were momentarily given the goal but after a referee meeting, ultimately deemed a close crossbar shot and nothing more.
The Panthers also had a close call with less than a minute left of play. Deep in the Williams zone, the Panther pressed hard and flustered the Ephs enough for junior David Belluche to just catch the left post of Williams goaltender sophomore Michael Pinios.
The Ephs extended and sealed their victory when sophomore Roberto Cellini scored his fourteenth goal of the season at 8:02. He was assisted by senior Frankie Mork and junior David Italiano who got their fifteenth and nineteenth assist of the season. Mork shot the puck towards Klein but the puck was deflected out to an open pocket to the right of the net where Cellini was waiting to finish off what Mork started.
"Both teams are very skilled and powerful and both goalies also played very well," Kangas said. "Because of that we were going up and down the rink a lot in the middle but we were able to set up good plays and one play in the third to get another goal in."
Williams didn't let up for the last twelve minutes of the game regardless of the three goal lead. Their perseverance until the end gave Pinios his first shut out of the season.
Middlebury and Williams will battle it out again tomorrow in Williamstown, puck drop at 7pm.