This week, the Williams men’s hockey team suffered a 4-2 loss to a good Elmira team, but rebounded from the loss with its biggest win of the season, upsetting the number one team in the country, Plattsburgh State. Williams’ record now stands at 9-4-2.
Plattsburgh was 14-2 entering its match up with the Ephs. However, as of a week before, the quick-starting Cardinals were an undefeated 13-0, winning the Pepsi Cardinal Classic by beating Elmira 4-3 in the final. The Ephs, on the other hand, have been slow starters most of the season, but they have improved their level of play in the third period of games. Third period surges have led the Ephs to a few come from behind victories, but sometimes Eph third period play has been too little, too late.
On Saturday the roles were reversed, as the Ephs came out on fire, gaining a 2-0 lead early in the game and Plattsburgh was flat until surging in the third period. The Ephs’ first goal was a near-side wrap around that Chad Ogiba ‘00 jammed in. Jon Duval ’01 followed with Williams’ second goal on the power play. Duval was positioned in front of the net when Tim Albrecht ’01 controlled the puck at the point and fired a slapshot about waist height, which Duval deflected downward and past Plattsburgh keeper Brad Erbsland.
The Ephs played strong hockey in the first, dumping the puck in the offensive zone and pressuring the Plattsburgh defense. This strategy worked well, as the offensively powerful Cardinals are a finesse team that could not overcome the persistent Eph forecheck. Plattsburgh was able to pick up a late score in the first period by Jeff Paluseo to bring the score to 2-1.
In the second period the Ephs maintained their offensive pressure, winning the period 2-0 on a pair of goals by Ryan Crisp ’01. The first of Crisp’s goals was a deflection in front, and the second was a slapshot from the right wing, beating Erbsland high on the stick side. After allowing four goals on 15 shots, Erbsland, a senior, was pulled in favor of Nikolas Sundberg, a sophmore. Sundberg shut out the Ephs for the remander of the game.
The 4-1 Eph lead at the end of two periods was due to getting men in front of the Plattsburgh goal and clearing the Eph goal of attacking players. The return of defensemen Eric Demment ’01 gave the Ephs great physical presence in their own end. Defender Dan Houck ’02 said, “We moved the puck well out of our own end. Also, head-manning the puck up ice created scoring opportunities for us in the transition game.”
Plattsburgh showed that they are one of the best teams in the country by turning their game on in the third period. After only 20 seconds into the third, the Cardinals had brought the score to 4-2. Plattsburgh dominated the third period both in terms of both puck possession and shots on goal. However, David Haimson ’00 put together his best performance this season, making some amazing saves in the third period. Haimson was tested frequently as the Ephs had three penalties in the last nine minutes of play.
The offensive skill of the Cardinals was enough to produce a powerplay goal at 17:01, bringing the final score to 4-3. Williams emerged victorious despite its eight penalties in the game because of an excellent start, good fundamentals such as dump and chase hockey and clearing its own zone, and the brilliant play of Haimson.
The Plattsburgh victory shows that if the Ephs play well with their balanced attack, they can beat any team in the country. About the 4-2 loss earlier in the week head Coach Bill Kangas said, “Elmira controlled most of the play in the first and second period we weren’t playing well in the first two periods, but in the third period we played very well. It was basically a third period game for us.”
Overall, this week’s results give the Ephs greater league respectability, because up until this point in the season the Ephs had fallen just short against all of the Eastern powerhouses they had played.
Williams travels to Maine this weekend for two games, Friday night at Colby and Saturday afternoon at Bowdoin. The Ephs tied Colby earlier in the season at home.