WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams College Ephs (11-10-0, 7-8-0 NESCAC) defeated the Middlebury College Panthers (4-15-2, 2-11-2 NESCAC) 2-1 tonight in the Lansing Chapman Rink. Senior captain Colby Cretella was able to score the empty netter with ten seconds remaining in overtime to lead his team to a hard fought victory.
The Eph record prior to this matchup was 10-10-0, and 6-8-0 in the conference, while the Middlebury record headed into today's game was 4-14-2, and 2-10-2 in the NESCAC.
The Ephs came into this match having been through a bit of a rough patch, their last win coming in mid January, and their last conference victory having been against Wesleyan on January 7th.
"Tonight was definitely a step forward," asserted Williams head coach Mike Monti. "We have talked as a group about not playing the scoreboard- that takes care of itself."
The last win for the Panthers was against Colby on January 19th, and Middlebury came into this match having won just one of their past ten games.
In net for the Ephs tonight was senior Stephen Morrissey, who came into the contest with an overall save percentage of .914. In between the pipes for the Panthers tonight was senior Stephen Klein, who came in with a very similar save percentage of .918.
Shots after the first period of play were 15-3 for Williams, despite a scoreless first period. The Ephs had three power play opportunities in the first 20 minutes, while the Panthers had two.
The Panthers got on the board first in the game at the midway point in the game and period, the first goal of the game coming at 11:30 of the second period.
After a turnover of possession in the Eph defensive zone, Panther senior Vincent Gisonti (fourth goal) moved the puck laterally, into the left circle, where he fired a wrist shot point blank over Morrissey's left shoulder to secure the 1-0 lead. Gisonti was unassisted on the play.
The Ephs were able to capture the equalizer at 17:37 of the second period. Senior C.J. Shugart (ninth goal) was able to skate one around to the right circle from behind the net, and fire of a wrist shot with a screen in front of Klein. Shugart was able to elevate one over Klein on the play, and was assisted by freshman Nick VanBelle (fourth assist). This goal brought the game's score to 1-1 after two periods of play.
After the first 40 minutes, shots were 26-14 for Williams.
"I thought we played well on our five on five play," Monti noted. "We had a lot of shots, and we got to the net. Unfortunately, Klein, their goalie, played extraordinarily."
At 16:16 of the third period, matching roughing penalties were called; for the Panthers, sophomore Danny Tighe was called to the box, and for the Ephs, sophomore Max Fuld. At 17:32, Panther junior Jimmy McKee was served a misconduct, however this did not affect the 4-4 play. Ultimately, neither team was able to capitalize, and the period ended with a score of 1-1, so five minutes of overtime play was to ensue.
After 60 minutes of regulation play, shot count totals came to 34-19 for Williams. There were 11 power play opportunities in all during regulation play, with neither team able to convert on the man advantage tonight.
At 3:30 of OT, Middlebury took a timeout, however nothing resulted.
At 4:50, the Ephs were able to capture the victory before the buzzer. The Panthers made the decision to pull their goalie with ten seconds remaining, as the faceoff was taking place in the Panther offensive zone. However, the Ephs won the faceoff, and it was a race down the ice to try to get the loose puck in the net. While freshman Tyler Scott (sixth assist) was unable to get the puck in the net with his two defenders, he was able to get the puck to Colby Cretella (third goal), who was able to put it away to guarantee his team's victory. Junior Connor Meike (second assist) was also awarded an assist on the play.
The game ended with a score of 2-1 for Williams, shots ending at 43-21 for Williams.
"Tomorrow will be a big challenge," stated Monti. "We are going to play on the Olympic sheet, and we are hoping to use our team speed to our advantage."
Both teams will have the opportunity to build upon their performances tonight in tomorrow's rematch. Middlebury and Williams face each other again tomorrow night, this time with the Panthers having home ice advantage. Puck drop is tomorrow, Saturday February 9th, at 7:00 PM.