Williamstown, MA–The Williams Ephs (14-6-1, 10-4-1 NESCAC) edged the Middlebury Panthers (8-11-2, 5-8-2 NESCAC) 2-0. Eph senior goaltender Michael Pinios recorded his fourth shut-out of the season and seventh overall.
Tonight's game is the final home game for the Ephs in the regular season and the first time Middlebury and Williams have faced each other this season. Last season, the Ephs were able to edge out the Panthers 2-1 in both games. The Ephs hoped to repeat last season's success against the Panthers.
The game started slow with no goals in the first period and only two penalties. The first penalty was called against the Ephs for too many men on the ice at 5:47. The penalty was served by junior Evan Johnson. The Panthers took this opportunity to put early pressure on the Ephs defensive line.
Senior Eph goaltender Michael PInios made a clutch save when he was drawn out of the net but managed to kick his leg out to block the sliding puck. Pinios' save shifted the momentum and broke up the Panthers in the Eph's zone. The change in momentum allowed the Ephs to regroup and kill off the remainder of the penalty within the neutral zone.
At 12:26, Middlebury was called for a charging penalty, which gave the Ephs the same advantage the Panther's had just minutes before. The penalty was called on Middlebury freshman Bret Pastor.
The Ephs moved the puck well around the Middlebury zone but was not able to setup a converting scoring opportunity.
With the clock ticking down and still no goals on the scoreboard, the Ephs pressed forward. The Ephs nearly thought they had taken the lead when a hard shot puck passed Middlebury goaltender, junior Brian Ketchabaw but just clipped the left edge of the post.
The second period started off fast with both teams vying for the coveted first goal. Both teams had several close calls but it was not until late into the period did Williams finally pull through.
At 17:39, the puck bounced in front of Ketchabaw. Junior Evan Johnson was quick to the scene and fired one over the shoulder of Ketchabaw for the Ephs first goal. Johnson was assisted by freshman Jack Forrest and sophomore Bobby Beniers. This was Johnson's first college goal as an Eph.
Entering the third period, tensions were high as the play got rougher and rougher and the clock showed less and less time. When there were less than two minutes remaining in the period, Middlebury called a timeout to make one final push into the Eph zone.
With only 48 seconds left, however, Pinios assisted sophomore Mike Armstrong in an empty net goal, sealing the win at 2-0.
"Every game is different. This was a good game for us because Middlebury has had a good season," head coach Bill Kangas said. "We can celebrate tonight but we play them again tomorrow and they've seen us play so it'll be tougher tomorrow."
The Ephs and the Panthers will play again tomorrow at 7pm on Middlebury's home turf.