Men’s hockey edges Hamilton to advance

CLINTON, N.Y. — The fifth-seeded Middlebury College men’s hockey team knocked off host No. 4 Hamilton on Saturday, 2-1 in overtime, in a NESCAC quarterfinal to earn a berth in this weekend’s league final four, which will be hosted by No. 2 Trinity.
The 8-10-7 Panthers will face No. 6 Amherst (10-11-4) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, while No. 8 Tufts (10-9-6) — which upset No. 1 Williams on Saturday — will meet the host Bantams (19-5-1) at 4:30 p.m. The winners will square off on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the NESCAC title and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Panthers picked up a pair of two-goal wins over Amherst during the regular season and a 3-2 win and a tie vs. Tufts. Trinity defeated Middlebury twice, 3-2 and 4-1.  
Against Hamilton (13-8-4), the Panthers got the winning goal from Jake Charles, who capitalized on a rebound by poking a loose puck past Hamilton goaltender Evan Buitenhuis 7:21 into overtime.
The winning play started when Charles picked off a Continental clear and fed Vincent Gisonti near the right post. Buitenhuis saved Gisonti’s shot, but the rebound wound up in front of the net to the goaltender’s right, and Charles pushed it home for the game-winner and his seventh goal of the season.
The Panthers took the lead in the opening period on a goal by Evan Neugold 2:50 into play. Neugold took a pass on the Middlebury side of the blue line and skated down the right side. After swinging wide toward the boards to evade a defender, he snapped a high wrist shot into the Hamilton net for his sixth goal this winter.
Robbie Murden tied the score 39 seconds into the second with his 17th goal of the year. After the Continentals kept a Middlebury clear attempt in the Panther zone, the puck was batted around until Neil Conway pushed it to Murden, who took it to the top of the left face-off circle and scored inside the near post.
The Panthers escaped two Continental scoring threats in the second. A Hamilton shot went over the crossbar after a two-on-one Continental break drew Middlebury netminder Liam Moorfield-Yee out of the crease. With about four minutes left in the period, a blocked shot wound up in front of Hamilton’s Richard Court in the slot but Moorfield-Yee smothered his backhander.
Early in the third, Moorfield-Yee went to the ice to stop a shot by Murden. After the puck rebounded off the prone goaltender into the crease, a Middlebury defender cleared it away from the empty net.
Hamilton finished with a 41-25 shots advantage. Moorfield-Yee stopped the Continentals’ last 29 shots to finish with 40 saves, and Buitenhuis made 23 stops. The two teams had played to a pair of overtime ties in conference play earlier this season.

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