MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - The second-seeded Wesleyan men's hockey team downed seventh-seed Middlebury 4-1 on Saturday afternoon to advance to the NESCAC Semifinals. This was the third time the Cardinals and Panthers met in a quarterfinal matchup and first win for Wesleyan. With the victory, the Cardinals improve to 16-7-2, while Middlebury concludes its season with an 8-13-4 mark.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Wesleyan opened the scoring with 8:02 expired after an initial shot by Sean Ross was denied by Middlebury goaltender Brian Ketchabaw. Spencer Fox collected the rebound, before sending a pass from the goal line to Tyler Levine who one-timed it from the slot for the 1-0 edge.
- The Cardinals had a flurry of opportunities to score beginning at the 9:15 mark during a power play, but the Panther defense clamped down and were able to kill off the penalty.
- Middlebury's best chance of the opening stanza came with 16:40 expired. Cole Joslin sent a pass from the right faceoff circle to Jimmy McKee on the far post, but McKee knocked the goal off it's mooring before the puck went in.
- Out of the intermission, the Panthers looked to knot the game at the 9:32 mark, but Zach Shapiro's backhanded attempt went just wide.
- Middlebury sent four quick shots at Wesleyan goaltender Tim Sestak beginning at the 12:40 mark, but a sprawling-Sestak denied all of them.
- The Cardinals increased their lead with 14:09 expired. Jordan Rose blasted a shot towards the goal that netminder Ketchabaw got a piece of, but it fell behind him, putting the Cardinals up 2-0.
- Just two minutes later, Wesleyan extended its lead to 3-0. Andy Espinoza sent a pass from the right faceoff circle across the slot, forcing Ketchabaw off his line to thwart any chances from the doorstep, but Walker Harris was on the left post to tip in the rebound.
- With 4:11 expired in the third, Wesleyan's Tyler Wyatt snuck the puck inside the goal, making it 4-0.
- Middlebury cut the deficit to three (4-1) at the 5:58 mark when Michael Fahie one-timed a pass from Kamil Tkaczuk on the doorstep.
- Panther Tyle Capello had a great chance to add a tally with 11:43 expired, but a sprawling-Sestak got a foot on the puck, kicking it away to thwart the chance.
- At the 13:40, Middlebury pulled Ketchabaw in hopes of tallying a quick goal. During the span of 3:43, the Panthers saw no quality opportunities, but a strong Middlebury defense denied several empty net attempts by Wesleyan.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Sestak earned his 14th win of the season, making 30 stops in goal.
- Ketchabaw suffered the loss in net for the Panthers, recording 18 saves during 53:40 of play.
- The Cardinals will square off against third-seed Amherst on Saturday, March 2nd at 1:00 p.m. The remainder of the tournament will be hosted at top-seed Trinity, as the Bantams face fourth-seed Hamilton at 4:30 p.m.