Women’s hockey eyes first place

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s hockey swept two NESCAC games from last-place Colby this past weekend, moving into a first-place tie with Hamilton in the process.
The Panthers, 14-6-2 overall, and the Continentals are both 9-4-1 in NESCAC play. However, Hamilton defeated the Panthers in two head-to-head meetings and holds the tiebreaker heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
The Panthers finishes with two games vs. Williams, at home on Friday at 7 p.m. and on the road on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Ephs, 10-10-2 overall, are tied for fourth place in NESCAC at 7-5-2.
Hamilton can clinch the league’s top postseason seed and home ice by sweeping two games at Connecticut College, which at 9-5 enters the weekend in third place. But if the Continentals lose or tie one of the games while the Panthers sweep Williams, Middlebury will earn postseason home ice, starting with a quarterfinal on Feb. 25. The final four is next on the following weekend.
Certainly, the Ephs are likely to offer more resistance than Colby (0-19-3, 0-15-1 NESCAC) did in losing at Middlebury by 8-1 on Sunday and 6-0 on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Panthers took a 3-0 lead in the first 7:14. Kelly Sherman’s deflected shot made it 1-0; Maddie Winslow, who finished with a hat trick, made it 2-0 on a power play with an assist from Elizabeth Wulf; and Lizzie Sheline circled the net to bury the rebound of a Janka Hlinka shot.
Middlebury added four goals in the second period. Winslow made it 4-0 three minutes in, and Jessica Young scored her team-leading 12th goal at 12:03 by backhanding in a shorthanded breakaway tally. Late in the period Winslow jammed home a loose puck, and Katherine Jackson scored 15 seconds later to make it 7-0.
The Mules got on the board at 3:25 of the third, when Katie McLaughlin snapped in the rebound of an Eleanor Knutzen shot. Sheline added the final goal by tapping home a short feed from Abby Marmer. Two Colby goalies combined for 28 saves, while Middlebury’s Lin Han stopped 14 shots.
On Saturday, Middlebury held Colby to five shot on net. Winslow scored the game’s only first-period goal, backhanding home a Victoria Laven rebound.  
Hlinka made it 2-0 4:35 into the second period by knocking in a Rachael St. Clair centering pass, and at 15:24 Anna Zumwinkle scored her first career goal on a shot from the right point after taking a feed from Jackson. Zumwinkle struck again 3:12 later, netting a five-on-three power play goal with another shot from the right point after working the puck with Carly Watson.
Laven and Sherman added goals in the third period. Panther goalie Julia Neuburger made five saves to earn her eighth career shutout. Halley Fine finished with 45 saves for Colby.

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