Division III college hockey has a long, hard season. It starts before Thanksgiving and ends in March. The Williams men’s hockey team knows that it has a difficult road ahead of it, facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation. The team got off to a strong start with a 5-3 victory over St. Anselm’s last Friday evening and a 6-3 victory over New England College the following afternoon
Friday night the Ephs played St. Anselm’s, and Williams opened the scoring early when Bobby Moss ’01 passed the puck to Dan Cotuno ’02 at the 3:35 mark on a two-on-one. Cotuno deflected the puck to the top corner, making the score 1-0. Four minutes later, St. Anselm’s captain Michael Tobin equalized the score. However, Brent Kozel, ’02, Steve Owen ’01 and Jon Duval ’01 all came back and scored in the first period.
The Ephs went into the locker room up 4-2 having played very aggressively in the first, but also having played frantically in their own end. The passion of the first period disintegrated into uneventful second period play, which saw one goal by Moss, who tapped the puck in after the St. A’s goalie misplayed it. In the third period the Ephs displayed better control of the puck in the offensive zone, and exhibited a stronger forecheck. The game ended 5-3, as Eph goalie Dave Haimson ’00 made 30 saves on 33 shots.
The next afternoon’s game looked to be more competitive as New England College finished last year with a surge in the standings. The Ephs succeed in denying New England College many offensive opportunities for the first two and one half periods. Joe Butler ’01 opened the scoring four minutes in when he took a feed from Moss in the low slot, took a wrist shot, and then deftly gathered in his own rebound and elevated the puck, making the score 1-0.
In the middle of the period forward Cotuno was hit by a NEC player from behind and left the game with a hip flexor injury. For almost all of the period New England College was kept to shots from the perimeter. Once Pat Bryant of NEC had a partial breakaway, but defensemen Chad Ogiba ’00 dove from behind him and managed to poke the puck away. Later in the first NEC had the puck on the near-side boards and an NEC player flung it in front where Keith Wallace jammed it past Haimson to make the score 1-1 at the end of the first.
The Ephs played their strongest period of hockey of either of the games this weekend in the second against NEC. In the early going Williams dominated the boards and controlled the puck, getting the first six shots of the period. Then, following a series of neutral zone turnovers, Captain Craig Branca ’00 escaped with the puck, streaked down the far side boards and snapped a rocket of a wrist shot that beat the NEC keeper high on the stick side, making the score 2-1.
At 11:46 in the second center Andrew Beasley ’02 scored, increasing the Williams lead to 3-1. In the second period the Eph defense succeeded in diffusing the NEC rush. Williams started the third period shorthanded, but David Carillo ’00 got the puck at the offensive blue line and fought off an NEC player with one hand, shielded the puck from this player by moving it to the backhand, and then placed both hands on the stick and roofed the puck, in what was the prettiest goal of the weekend for Williams. Later at 4:17 Ryan Crisp ’01 put Williams ahead 5-1 by capitalizing on the NEC goalie’s weak attempt to clear the puck. With the lead, the Williams defense broke down and allowed many NEC chances. On a breakaway with 8:03 to play Haimson stopped an NEC player on both his initial shot and the rebound. Later in the period Haimson robbed NEC on a two-on-one. Despite these examples of excellent goaltending, NEC scored two late in the third bringing the score to 5-3. The games scoring was capped off by Wesley Fox ’03, who scored an empty netter assisted by Duval.
Poised to face the tough 1999-2000 campaign, Williams returns 17 out of 20 starters from last season. Despite graduating team leaders Jeff Russell and Jon Collins, Williams Men’s Hockey Coach Bill Kangas will have six of his top eight scorers back, almost his entire defense and first team All-America goalie Dave Haimson. “We have depth, maturity and speed,” said Kangas. According to Kangas, the benchmark of success for this year’s team is to make nationals, a goal that narrowly eluded last year’s team. However, the rules have changed this season, as the Ephs are playing in the newly created ECAC—NESCAC league, which will have a tournament at the end of the season to crown its champion.
Next up for the Ephs is a two game Thanksgiving weekend road trip to Minnesota where the Ephs face St. Thomas and St. Johns. St. Johns is ranked in the top ten nationally and reached the NCAA tournament semifinals last year. After this westerly swing, Williams resumes its challenging schedule featuring 14 road games and only ten at home.