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Contact: William Sodoma
Date: February 26, 2011
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. --- The Colby College men's hockey team is on to the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals and Middlebury College will miss out on going to the league title game for the first time since the playoff system started in 2000 after the Mules pulled out a 2-1 win in a quarterfinal game at Kenyon Arena on Saturday.
Senior goaltender Cody McKinney earned his 40th career victory in a Colby uniform as the sixth-seeded Mules improved to 12-10-2 after starting the season at 2-8-1. Third-seeded Middlebury (11-8-6) had played in 11 straight NESCAC title games and had won eight championships, including last year's title.
Colby will play arch-rival Bowdoin College, the fifth seed, in a NESCAC semifinal game next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Williams College. Wesleyan University and Williams meet in the other semifinal at 1 p.m. The championship game is next Sunday at 2 p.m.
McKinney made 37 saves, showing great consistency with 12 saves in the first period, 11 more in the second, and then 14 in the final period. He improved to 40-35-9 in his career and 11-7-2 this season. McKinney started his career at Colby by taking the Mules to the NESCAC semifinals in his first year.
Colby jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 3:52 into the first period with the fourth of the season by Dan Nelson. Billy Crinnion's shot from the right wing was stopped with a pad save from John Yanchek, before Nelson pounced on the rebound with an open net. Louis Belisle had a pair of nice looks for the Panthers at the 15:30 mark, but both were denied by McKinney.
The Mules doubled their lead 6:33 into the second period, when Chris Buonomo scored his seventh of the year from the high slot, redirecting a centering pass from Karl Burns. Nick BonDurant came on in relief of Yanchek (26:33, 2 GA, 10 saves) following the tally. McKinney stopped Brett Brazier in transition at the 11:00 mark, followed by a pair of saves by BonDurant on Jack Bartlett from point-blank range. McKinney came up big again with 7:00 minutes remaining, stopping Brazier with a big glove save. The second period ended with Middlebury leading 23-16 in shots, but trailing 2-0.
Middlebury came on strong in the third, with Chris Brown breaking in all alone before he was unable to get off a shot. The Panthers went on the power play at 5:10, with Chaz Svoboda scoring his third of the year at 6:24 to make it a 2-1 game. Mathieu Castonguay's shot from the point was saved by McKinney, with Svoboda scoring on his second attempt for the goal.
Middlebury pulled BonDurant (11 saves) for the game's final 1:38, earning five shots on goal, but could not sneak one past McKinney to tie the game. The Panthers finished the contest with a 38-23 shots advantage.
Colby 2, Middlebury 1
C: Dan Nelson (Billy Crinnion), 3:52
Chris Buonomo (Karl Burns), 6:33
M: Chaz Svoboda (Mathieu Castonguay, Michael Longo), 6:24, PP
Shots: Colby 23, Middlebury 38. Power play: Colby 0-1, Middlebury 1-3. Penalties: Colby 3-6, Middlebury 1-3. Goalies: Cody McKinney (Colby, 60:00, 1 GA, 37 saves); John Yanchek (Middlebury, 26:33, 2 GA, 10 saves) and Nick BonDurant (Middlebury, 31:49, 0 GA, 11 saves).
2011 NESCAC Men's Hockey Championships
Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26
Wesleyan 5, Hamilton 2
Williams 4, Trinity 3
Colby 2, Middlebury 1
Bowdoin 4, Amherst 3, OT
Semifinals, March 5 at Williams
No. 8 Wesleyan at No. 1 Williams, 1 p.m.
No. 6 Colby at No. 5 Bowdoin, 4 p.m.
Final, March 6 at Williams
Semifinal winners, 2 p.m.