Middlebury suffered its first NESCAC loss of the season as the Panthers (2-3, 2-1), ranked 17th nationally fell by a score of 7-3 at Wesleyan. Senior Grant Covington picked up a career-high 17 saves and allowed just three goals to lead the Cardinals (4-1, 3-1) to the victory. The teams had met in Middletown a year ago as well with the Cardinals knocking off the Panthers, 9-8 in overtime.
Wesleyan jumped out to a 5-1 lead before the game was nine minutes old as sophomore Aidan Daniell found the net twice, opening the scoring just :53 in with a bouncer off a feed by sophomore Joe Porcelli. Just 1:01 later, senior Teddy Citrin made it 2-0, spinning in front from behind on the left to score his team-leading ninth goal of the season. When Porcelli and Daniell reversed scoring roles at 10:42, Wesleyan had a 3-0 advantage. Each team scored twice to close out the first quarter as Middlebury got a pair of goals from rookie Chase Clymer, who was playing just his second career game and got his first two career goals. Both were assisted by junior Mike Giordano who made passes to the middle from the left side each time. Between the Clymer goals, Daniell got his second tally, upping his seasonal goal total to six and giving him a three-point afternoon, while sophomore Graham Macnab also hit the twine, assisted by senior John Froats. Clymer's second goal came on a man-advantage situation at 2:04 of the first period. There were only three penalties called in the well-played contest.
Despite seven goals in the opening 12:56 of the game, only one goal was scored over the next 33:46, that coming from Middlebury sophomore Bucky Pierce at 6:09 of the second quarter on a high shot after catching a pass from sophomore Quinn Cronan, making it a 5-3 game. Wesleyan ended its scoring drought at 13:18 of the fourth quarter when senior DJ Benatavitz rolled in front from behind the net on the left and put home a bouncer just inside the right post past Middlebury sophomore keeper Nate Gaudio to give the Cardinals a three-goal cushion. Bernatavitz finished off the day's scoring with just 2:04 remaining as he bounced in a shot from the right side off a pass from senior Max Landow with Gaudio out of the net trying to double-team the ball in an attempt to gain possession. They were the first goals of the season for Bernatavitz. Gaudio played well for Middlebury, making 11 saves in the contest.
After the Middlebury goal in the second period, Covington, whose previous high-save game came against Tufts in 2011 when he stopped 15 shots, held the Panthers scoreless for the final 36:09, making 10 of his 17 saves over the stretch.
Up next for Wesleyan is a pivotal NESCAC home game against fifth-ranked nationally Amherst Wed., March 28. Middlebury will be in action in a NESCAC game Wednesday as well, traveling to Hamilton.