Belonging to one of the greatest teams in the hallowed hockey history of the Middlebury College Panthers, Ellie Barney brought a combination of work ethic and desire to win. That desire was most evident in the pulse pounding 2022 NCAA Division III championship game versus the Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties.
Scoring the championship clinching goal in overtime, it propelled Barney into an exalted place in program lore. Highly cerebral, earning multiple recognition as a NESCAC All-Academic (2019, 2021, 2022), the commitment in the classroom mirrored the on-ice work ethic of the Milwaukee-raised Barney.
Heading into her final season, Barney enjoyed the privilege of adding a letter on her sweater. Named one of the team captains, belonging to a leadership group involving Eva Hendrikson and All-America selection Madie Leidt, the honor went beyond the summit of a proud milestone.
With a roster consisting of 11 freshmen and six sophomores, it was a role accepted with a strong sense of commitment. Constantly working towards setting a positive example, Barney’s efforts constantly kept focus on the big picture.
“Being a captain of our team this year was a great honor and a big responsibility. We had a large and young team, so bringing the team together and making sure we had sustained group goals took a bit of extra care this year.”
With the Division III National Championship contested on home ice, Barney’s final game in Panthers paraphernalia took on a more profound impact. A record crowd of 2,100 fans filled Kenyon Arena to capacity, providing that pivotal push to get over the finish line and emerge victorious.
After Leidt scored at the 17:13 mark of the third period, the fourth NCAA championship in program history seemed inevitable. Shockingly, with 0.1 seconds left, Molly McHugh buried a rebound into the Middlebury net, part of a 6-on-4 for the Golden Gusties.
Certainly one of the most surprising goals in NCAA hockey history, quickly gaining mention on social media, overtime held the potential for a massive upset. Refusing to be deflated, Middlebury controlled the pace in overtime.
With fellow team captain Hendrikson feeding the puck, Barney retained her composure. Although goaltender Katie McCoy blocked her first shot, she pounced on the rebound, allowing Middlebury to successfully complete its undefeated season.
Representing her first game winning goal since February 22, 2020, when Middlebury defeated the Bowdoin College Polar Bears, the magnitude of a championship winning goal serves as a defining moment for an elated Barney.
“It is truly an unforgettable moment and way to end my Middlebury and hockey career. Our team played some of its best hockey in that OT period which is a testament to our preparation and mentality going into the game.”
Undoubtedly, the most treasured element of skating for Middlebury College involved the social component. Becoming a second family for Barney, the essence of teamwork proved just as essential off the ice. Extending into the community, the collective feeling of belonging and playing beyond individual goals were hallmarks.
Finding a tremendous point of pride in the unwavering support of its fans, the level of commitment and dedication exerted by all involved with the program provided its own inspiration. Best exemplified by the remarkable show of support in the championship game, feelings of achievement are only outmatched by the feelings of unity.
“I am going to miss the people that make up the program the most. I cherish the relationships I have made with my teammates, coaches, rink staff, hockey alums, and community members.
We have such an amazing and supportive community rallying behind us at Middlebury which differentiates our program in an amazing way.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“
Photos by Will Costello