At the outset of the season, the Williams men’s ice hockey team counted their physical defensive style as one of their primary strengths. However, following their loss to SUNY-Plattsburgh on Jan. 20, the Ephs’ vaunted defense was reeling, having been outshot by an average of 19 shots on goal per night.
“We realized that we couldn’t win consistently that way. We had to recommit to defense,” goalkeeper Dave Haimson ’00 said. Their next two games marked a return to a defensive mindset as they surged to victories over Babson College and UMass-Boston.
The Ephs improved to 11-4-0 overall, 9-1-0 in the ECAC East with the 4-3 victory over UMass-Boston.
Though UMass is not one of the stronger teams on the schedule, the Ephs were worn down, having played five games in eight days. “[The schedule] had really drained the guys physically,” coach Bill Kangas noted.
After a scoreless first period, the Ephs surged to a 2-0 lead in the second. Forward Jim Labbe ’98 started the scoring, shooting from the corner to beat UMass goalie Frank Soltesz. Four minutes later, Jeff Russell ’99 added a shorthanded goal, assisted by David Carillo ’00. Carillo added a goal of his own with only 20 seconds remaining in the second period, sending the Ephs to the locker room with a 3-0 advantage.
UMass put their first goal on the board three minutes into the period, as Mark Allegrezza’s found its way past goalie Jay Lapham ’99 to cut the Ephs’ lead to 3-1. Freshman forward Bobby Moss answered back for Williams three minutes later, as his shot on goal during a shift change trickled into the net, making the score 4-1. It was at this point that the fatigue caused by the rigorous schedule became a factor. Inside of five minutes remaining in the game, UMass netted two goal in a one minute span, cutting the lead to one goal. But Lapham and the Ephs withstood the rally, escaping with a 4-3 victory. “Jay Lapham played an excellent game for us,” Moss said. “He made the lead stand up.”
The night before, the Ephs had defeated Babson College by a 2-1 decision to take sole possession of second place in the ECAC East. The first goal of the game was tallied by Moss, assisted by Joe Butler ’01 and Matt Lindsay ’00. Babson answered four minutes later on the power play, as Steve O’Leary’s shot ricocheted off of the goal post into the net, knotting the game at 1-1. But the Ephs would retake the lead.
Moss scored his second goal of the game, assisted again by Butler and Lindsay. Haimson’s continuing solid play between the pipes ensured an Eph victory by stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced. “We really put it together,” he said. “This win was a team effort.”
The two wins came on the heels of a stinging 6-4 defeat at the hands of SUNY-Plattsburgh. The game was a seesaw battle, as each team held leads throughout the game. With the Ephs trailing 4-3 late in the third period, Moss scored a power play goal to tie the game. However, Plattsburgh struck back a minute later to take the lead for good. They added an empty netter to make the final score 6-4. Haimson made 43 saves in the defeat.
Following the grueling week, the Ephs look forward to a lighter schedule. Their next game will be played away on Friday when they face New England College.