Mustangs Finish With 26 Blocked Shots in 4-1 Loss at No. 6 Middlebury

Mustangs Finish With 26 Blocked Shots in 4-1 Loss at No. 6 Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The Stevenson women's hockey team recorded a season-low 14 shots as No. 6 Middlebury scored three unanswered goals as the Mustangs dropped a 4-1 non-conference decision Friday evening at Chip Kenyon Arena.

It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams, as the Mustangs (9-6) fall to 6-2 on the road this season. The team also falls to 1-20-0 all-time when being held to under 20 shots in a game and 0-2-0 this year.

After a back-and-forth opening few minutes, the Panthers controlled the momentum after they earned the games first power-play opportunity just 4:16 into the opening period. The Stevenson defensive pair could not get a change during the entire penalty kill and remained on the ice for another minute before they finally could get a change on a frozen puck.

It was the 19th consecutive penalty kill for the Mustangs who entered the game ranked second in Division III.

Middlebury had a breakaway opportunity just a minute after the change but sophomore Caitie Darosa made back-to-back saves, including a wide-open rebound attempt in front of the net.

But the Panthers did break through just past the midway point as an open Janka Hlinka slid the puck low on the stick side of Darosa in front of the goal after her teammates worked the puck around behind the net and centered a pass for the one-timer.

With 1:14 remaining in the opening period, freshman Jordan Pirrello blocked a shot from the point and raced down the ice, taking a bad clear from goaltender Julia Neuburger and sent it into the empty net.

It was just the second shot of the game for the Mustangs, who finished the opening period with nine blocked shots as the hosts held a 10-2 advantage in shots in the opening frame.

The hosts reclaimed the lead with 15.6 seconds remaining in the opening period as Jessica Young was able to send the puck into a partially opened net after her pass moved Darosa out of position on a shot on the other side of the post.

Darosa had to make an acrobatic save early into the second period and she was able to get over to the far post for a split save before the puck slid behind her across the face of the goal and out.

Stevenson drew a penalty and went on its first power-play opportunity, 6:08 into the period, but only got three shots off as some of the penalty was spent in the Mustangs defensive zone after a bad pass sent the puck out of the offensive zone.

The visitors were able to carry to puck back into the Panthers defensive zone, but Neuburger came up with back-to-back pad saves to keep the hosts advantage at one.

Just after the Mustangs power-play expired, Stevenson committed a penalty and went back to the penalty kill for the second time. With 20 seconds remaining in the player advantage, Middlebury extended its lead to two as Maddie Winslow fired home a rebound attempt. 

The Panthers added another goal with 3:51 remaining in the second period after Amanda Navratil received a pass off the boards after sitting behind the Mustangs defense near the blue line and fired a shot into the pads of Darosa before scoring off her own rebound.

Stevenson had a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity after the Panthers committed the second penalty 4:54 into the third period. But the Mustangs only got one shot off on the duration of both penalties and finished 0-for-3 on the power-play in the game.

The Mustangs were held to a season-low 14 shots but recorded a season-how 26 blocked shots. The team also won 22 of the 42 face-offs. Meanwhile, Darosa finished with 31 saves, one shy of tying her career-high.

Stevenson returns to action on Saturday, February 14 when the Mustangs face Division II Saint Anselm in a non-conference contest beginning at 1:00 p.m.