MIDDLEBURY, Vt. –The fifth-seeded Wesleyan men's hockey team scored three unanswered goals in the third period, storming back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the fourth-seeded Panthers 4-2 on Saturday afternoon in the NESCAC Quarterfinals. The come-from-behind win sends the Cardinals into the semifinal round where top-seeded Williams awaits on Saturday, March 7.
Hunter Vannier's first goal of the season, which came with 12:39 remaining in the third, was the ultimate game-winner. Jordan Rose tied the score at 2-2 just two minutes into the deciding third period while Emmet Powell supplied a power play insurance marker with 2:01 remaining that sealed the Cardinals' postseason victory.
Wesleyan's thrilling comeback sends the Cardinals (13-11-1) into the NESCAC Semifinals for the fourth straight season and fifth time overall. Middlebury (10-12-3) sees their season come to an end at the hands of the Cardinals in the NESCAC Quarterfinals for a second straight season.
- Tyler Kobryn had a great chance to open the scoring with 5:51 expired but his shot attempt hit the right pipe and ricocheted away.
- Neither team was able to muster much offense up until Middlebury's Conor Breen had a great chance at the 18:40 mark of the first but Tim Sestak was able to get his stick on the puck to deny the scoring opportunity.
- Wesleyan broke through on the power play with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening period as an initial shot attempt from Spencer Fox was denied by Panther goaltender Brian Ketchabaw but Cam Peritz was there to tuck home the rebound under the crossbar for the 1-0 edge heading into the intermission.
- Middlebury tallied the equalizer just 1:55 into the second period as Emack Bentley stole the puck in transition before Zach Shapiro redirected a pass from Bentley on the doorstep to make it 1-1.
- After the goal, the Panthers looked to take the lead with back-to-back power play opportunities but a strong Wesleyan penalty kill denied both extra-man advantages.
- With 40 seconds remaining in the middle frame, Middlebury's Paddy Mangan sent a pass across to Brendan Dawson, before his slap shot from just inside the blue line gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
- Wesleyan knotted the game 2-2 with 2:01 elapsed in the final session. Liam Donelan took a shot from just inside the blue line, before Rose tipped it in.
- Later, Quincy Gregg worked the puck around the back of the net and fed Vannier a pass on the doorstep. Vannier's one-timer gave the Cardinals the 3-2 advantage at the 7:21 mark.
- Middlebury looked to tie with 12:07 expired, but Owen Powers' shot from point-blank was denied by Sestak.
- Wesleyan solidified the victory with a power play tally at the 17:59 mark. An initial shot by Fox was thwarted by Ketchabaw, but Powell one-timed the rebound for the 4-2 final.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Sestak earns his third career postseason victory, denying 21-of-23 shot attempts from the Panthers
- Middlebury held a slim 23-21 advantage in shots
- Wesleyan capitalized on special teams, going 2-for-3 on the power play while holding the Panthers to an 0-for-3 showing on the man-advantage
- Four different Cardinals factored in the goal scoring 11 Wesleyan players registered at least one point
- Fox (two assists) was the lone Cardinal to record a multi-point game
- Wesleyan went 30-for-53 on faceoffs, with Walker Harris winning 16 to lead the way
- Wesleyan seeks its first-ever NESCAC title game appearance with a semifinal matchup at top-seeded Williams on Saturday, March 7