Men’s hockey sits atop conference

The Williams men’s hockey team played three games this week, all on home ice. In all three games, Williams started slow and played some sloppy hockey, but in the third period of each game, the Ephs came back strong offensively.

The first game of the week was against division rival Colby College. The Ephs were missing three of their key starters due to injury: defensemen Eric Demment ’01, captain Craig Branca ’00, and centermen Andrew Beasley ’02.

In addition to the injuries, the lineup was further shuffled because head coach Bill Kangas decided to give goaltender Mike Aroesty ’03 his first start on home ice. Aroesty did not disappoint as he showed that the Purple Valley has not one, but two of the best goaltenders in all of men’s Division III hockey.

At the start of the game, Colby came out quickly, doing an excellent job of controlling the puck in the Eph defensive zone. Colby would frequently pinch both of its defensemen at the points, both on the power play and at even strength. This tactic allowed Colby to thwart many Eph clearance attempts and generate offensive chances. However, even though Colby had the majority of shots in the first period, Williams won the period 2-0.

Williams’s first goal came at 9:03 in the first, when Tim Albrecht ’01 made a pass through the neutral zone to Joe Butler ’01. The pass sprang Butler on the right wing, who skated with speed to the top of the right circle and fired a low and hard slap shot destined for the bottom far corner of the net.

Later in the period, at 18:45, Butler had the puck on the left side of the Colby goal about eight feet away from the crease. Butler cleverly played the puck across the net mouth to captain David Carrillo ’00, who had the entire right side of the net empty. Carrillo elevated the puck and brought the score to 2-0 at the end of one.

In the second period, the roles for Williams and Colby reversed. Williams outplayed Colby, forechecking and cycling well in the Colby zone. Williams also did a good job of skating the puck out of their own end. Though the Ephs played the better hockey, early in the period, Mike Higgins of Colby jammed a rebound past Aroesty. With Williams leading 2-1, Colby had a string of excellent scoring chances which were all artfully stopped by Aroesty.

One of the more memorable saves occurred when Colby controlled the puck along the boards and Williams failed to cover a Colby forward who was stationed in the low slot. The puck was passed to the forward in the low slot about two feet in front of the crease. He elected to fire the puck to the top left corner of the net. Aroesty made a jaw dropping glove save on the play.

In the middle portion of the second period, Williams had a fair amount of offensive opportunities of its own, but Greg Stutman, the Colby goaltender, was equal to the task.

Towards the end of the period, Colby scored again on a wrist shot on the power play. After the first two periods of play, the teams had played equally and a draw appeared to be an equitable outcome. However, in the third period and overtime Williams grossly outplayed Colby, fighting hard for loose pucks and getting the vast majority of the scoring chances.

In the last seven or eight minutes of the game, (including the five minute overtime period) Colby did not have a single scoring chances and Williams had many. But, despite the late surge, Williams came away with a 2-2 tie.

Defensemen Rob Hodge ’00 noted, “It is tough for us to play without Eric (Demment). We needed to play bigger to compensate.”

Friday night, the Ephs played Babson again without Demment, and again his absence changed the flow of the game. Babson was slower, less physical and defensively oriented.

Initially, Williams had the majority of scoring chances but could not put any of them past the Babson keeper Greg Berard. Greg Berard, brother of NHL star Brian Berard (defensemen for the Maple Leafs), kept Babson in the game in the first and second periods by making many fine saves.

Coach Kangas returned to David Haimson ’00 in goal for the Ephs. For the first 10 or 15 minutes, the game was played almost exclusively in the Babson defensive end as Babson played passively and barely forechecked. However, as the first period was winding down, Babson had a few good offensive chances, one of which put Babson ahead 1-0 at the 17:48 mark.

At the start of the second period, Williams scored a beautiful goal to bring the score to 1-1. Sophomore Dan Houck had the puck at the left point and passed it to Carrillo, who was in the right part of the low slot. Rather than shoot, Carrillo passed across to Matt Lindsey ’01, who was stationed above the left side of the crease and put the pass in the back of the net. With the score tied at 1-1 the Ephs played lackadaisically and failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

Because of this, even though Babson was not particularly talented, it was able to take a 2-1 lead on a mid second period goal and sustain it until the thrid. However, just before the end of the second period Babson committed a penalty. So to start the third, Williams had a power play.

The Ephs came out flying at the start of the third and generated two great scoring chances immediately; then Bobby Moss ’00 made a brilliant pass through the crease, finding Carrillo at the back door to tip it in. With the score at 2-2, the Ephs did not let up their offensive pressure. They scored twice more in under six minutes to make the score 4-2.

During this time period, the Ephs moved the puck around the Babson zone as if they were still on the power play, even though they were at even strength. Quickly, the game got out of hand, as Dan Cotuno ’02 scored on a two on one and Bill Gilchrist ’03 buried a rebound to bring the score to 6-2. After this point, the game became comical as a frustrated Babson team began taking and inciting many penalties.

In the last game of the week, Williams faced a talented UMass-Boston team. UMass-Boston got ahead 1-0 with a goal at 9:31 of the first. At the 11:00 minute mark, Carrillo was tripped on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot, but wasn’t able to get it past the UMass-Boston goaltender.

Williams tied it up at 8:04 into the second period as Hodge passed the puck to Beasley, who skated passed a Boston defender and fired a slapshot into the far upper corner.

The Ephs took the lead 2-1 early in the third period as Moss scored unassisted. UMass-Boston tied the score at two on the very next shift.

The game-winner came 15:33 into the third period as Carrillo passed across the net mouth to Ryan Crisp on odd man rush, who one-timed the puck into the far side of the net, bringing the final score to 3-2 in favor of Williams.

Overall, it was a very successful week for Williams as the team improved its record to 8-3-2 overall (7-1-1 conference), and now leads its conference.

Williams showed flashes of offensive brilliance, illustrating the fact that the Ephs are deep at forward and have many players who can score and make skilled plays. As the team gets healthier, it should be ready for the more important part of its schedule which is loaded with conference games.

The Ephs’ next game is at Elmira Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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