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Women’s hockey shows early promise

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s hockey team fell at home to Adrian, 4-1, in Sunday’s final of the annual Panther-Cardinal Classic, which Middlebury and Plattsburgh take turns hosting, but Panther Coach Bill Mandigo was not too upset to see his team come up short.
For one thing, his 2-1-1 Panthers feature six freshmen in fulltime roles and entered the tournament with just two games under its belt. Meanwhile the other teams had much more ice time this season already: Elmira and Plattsburgh were each 5-0, while Adrian improved to 9-1 with its weekend wins over Plattsburgh and Middlebury.
And the Panthers rallied to tie Elmira on Saturday, 1-1, and then won in a shootout to reach the Sunday’s final. Like Middlebury, Elmira found the going tough on Sunday after extra time on Saturday, falling to Plattsburgh by 4-1 in the consolation match.
After the tournament Adrian moved up to No. 1 in NCAA Division III, Plattsburgh stood at No. 2, Elmira at No. 3, and Middlebury, which will play two at Connecticut this weekend, dropped from No. 4 to No. 6.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE FRESHMAN woman’s hockey player Katie Hargrave makes a move with the puck in the offensive zone during the title game of the Panther-Cardinal Classic, played on Sunday in Kenyon Arena. Visiting Adrian prevailed, 4-1.
Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
Regardless, Mandigo was happy with his team’s effort level both days, even if that effort paid off better on Saturday.
“I think they played hard. I think we were tired. I think it took so much out of us yesterday,” he said after Sunday’s setback. “They played great yesterday. It was fast, so much up and down yesterday. I think we used a lot of energy.”
Mandigo said the tough annual tournament so early in the year is valuable for the Panthers to understand the level of play they need to achieve and what they have to work on, especially in a year when the team is playing just two seniors and four juniors and is relying on so many young players.
“We’re really, really young. We’re playing six or seven freshmen, and they’re playing major roles,” he said. “It’s a learning experience, and we’ll figure it out. I told them I’m disappointed for them, not in them. I’d be disappointed if it was the last game of the year, not the fourth game of the year.”
ELMIRA GAME
In Saturday’s game Elmira controlled the first period. Panther junior goalie Lin Han stopped 31 of the 32 shots she faced, including in the eighth minute, when she used her left pad to kick away a Morgan Mordini shot while lying on the ice.
But Han could not stop Shannon Strawinski from giving Elmira the lead 40 seconds later, when, Strawinski poked in a rebound of a Jessica Adams shot.
Play evened in the middle two periods, during both of which each team put eight shots on goal. The Panthers tied the game early in the second period on a power play, with two freshmen figuring in the damage: Eva Hendrikson made use of a Jenna Letterie screen to net her first collegiate goal, with senior Jenna Marotta and sophomore Madie Leidt getting the assists.
In the period each team had chances. Elmira goalie Stephanie Martin (21 saves) batted away sophomore Meghan Keating backhander from the slot, and Han slid to her right to stop Maddie Evangelous and then Maddy Jerolman’s rebound bid.
ANNA ZUMWINKLE, A junior defender, rips a shot during Sunday’s championship game. Zumwinkle scored the Panthers’ goal in their 4-1 setback to Adrian in the final.
Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
In the third Elmira survived a 5-on-3 Middlebury power play for 1:03 midway through the final period, with Martin making two key saves. The Panthers held off two power plays in the closing minutes, with Leidt and Marotta forechecking well before Han made two late saves.
Elmira dominated overtime thanks to a power play: Han made four stops, and Elmira also hit a post. In the shootout, Han made three straight saves, and Anna Zumwinkle sent the Panthers to the final by lifting Middlebury’s third shot over Martin’s right shoulder.
ADRIAN GAME
On Sunday the Panthers took an early lead and controlled the first period, but Adrian took charge afterward and scored three times in the third, including an empty-netter, to earn its 4-1 victory.
Zumwinkle gave the Panthers the lead with 7:28 remaining in the first period. Leidt won a faceoff in the Bulldog zone to Keating, who set Zumwinkle up for a blast from the center point that went high into the left corner through a screen.
Sophomore forward Ellie Barney created several chances, and in the closing minutes Leidt rang the crossbar with a shot from the left circle.
Adrian set the tone early in the second, when Middlebury goalie Anna Goldstein slid to her left to deny Adrian’s Taylor Henthorne from the doorstep. The Bulldogs pulled even at 12:17, when Maggie Mitter poked home a Jessica Miller shot from the left point that hit the left post.
Adrian kept the momentum in the third. With 3:25 expired Goldstein stopped Julia Barrett’s shot from the left side, but the rebound bounced to the right to Tory Harshman, who wristed the puck home.
PANTHER SENIOR CAPTAIN Jenna Marotta attacks the Adrian zone during the championship game of the Panther-Cardinal Classic at Kenyon Arena. The Panthers won a shootout after tying Elmira on Saturday to reach Sunday’s final, but Adrian pulled away late to prevail in the final. 4-1.
Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
The Bulldogs added an insurance goal with 6:53 remaining, soon after the Panthers were whistled for two many skaters on the ice. Brianna Buchanan, at the left post, stuffed home a strong centering feed from Amanda Tomasek.
The Panthers pressed, but the Bulldog defense blocked several shots, including a Letterie bid after Middlebury pulled Goldstein with two minutes to go. That led to Hannah Dalrymple picking up a loose puck and converting an empty-netter to seal the win. Goldstein made 23 saves, and Adrian goalie Kate Turner stopped 16 shots.
Overall, Mandigo said he would only be concerned if his young team failed to learn from the weekend.
“We’re fine,” Mandigo said. “This whole year is going to be a building process. I tell them all the time it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I’ll be disappointed if we take two steps forward and three steps back. Then I’ll be disappointed.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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