In a valiant and exciting run towards the playoffs, the Williams men’s dropped two tough games at home this weekend to Norwich and Middlebury. A victory in either match would have ensured the Ephs a place in the NCAA tournament. Williams now will probably accept a bid to the ECAC tourney.
Before a near-capacity crowd, the visiting Norwich Cadets upped their record to 21-1-1 overall, and 15-1-1 in the ECAC to maintain their number one standing. Norwich scored first at 1:28 in the first period with a goal from Jim Nagle, assisted by Greg Ducluzeau and Keith Aucoin. The Ephmen responded at the 15:16 mark of the first with Chad Ogiba ’00 and Jon Collins ’99 combining to assist Joe Butler ’01 for a power play goal. Unfortunately, this proved to be the Ephs’ only goal. At 6:12 in the second Aaron Phelan scored Norwich’s scored goal, after assists from Casey Beaulac and Jason Lumsden. Norwich sealed the win with their final goal in the third at 11:00 with Casey Beaulac’s goal from Phelan and Matt Moran. Williams fell to 16-5-2 with Friday’s loss to the ECAC East rival.
On Saturday, in front of another large crowd, the Ephmen battled hard, but gave up the puck at key points in the game to lose to the visiting Middlebury Panthers, 5-2. Middlebury improved its record to 13-3-1 in the ECAC and 18-4-1 overall.
Middlebury’s first goal came at 17:02 in the opening period when Curt Goldman and John Giannacopoulos hit Matt Skoglund during a powerplay. The second period was fiercely contested, as both teams had solid scoring chances. Williams suffered when Dan Cotuno ’02 was given a game misconduct penalty with about five minutes remaining in the second. The Panthers went on the power play and shot repeatedly on goalie Dave Haimson ’00. Haimson made several incredible saves as pressure from the Middlebury attack mounted. However, a Curt Goldman shot from Ben Barnett and Giannacopoulos slipped by Haimson at the 17:41 mark to push the Panther’s lead to 2-0.
Just when the period was about to end, Ryan Crisp ’01 broke free and put Williams on the scoreboard with a slap shot past the Middlebury goaltender with only five seconds left in the period.
Middlebury opened the third period with a quick goal by Jeff Anastasio at 1:31 from David Bracken making the score 3-1. Williams didn’t let down, though, and responded with a goal of their own at 4:30 with Craig Branca’s goal from Stephen Owen.
Williams was in the game, only down 3-2, but then sloppy play in the defense allowed Middlebury to seal the victory with two more goals in the third. Eph defenders made poor decisions in front of the net, coughing up the puck to Middlebury forwards. The two recipients of the gift goals were Scott Goldman and Ben Barnett. Williams couldn’t get back in the match, and fell by the final of 5-2.
The Ephs end the regular season with a record of 12-4-1 in the ECAC East and 16-6-2 overall. Unfortunately the 16 wins most likely will not be enough to grant the team a spot in the NCAA tournament. Since Norwich, R.I.T., Plattsburgh and Middlebury are sure to be ahead of Williams in the final poll, it is not probable that the Ephs will bid into the NCAAs. If the team choses the route of the ECACs, Williams has a good chance of hosting a majority of the tournament games.