Men’s hockey in the hunt for conference title following 4-2 start

Hockey head coach Bill Kangas made an equipment change this season. He removed the names from the back of the players’ jerseys to remind them that the team comes before the individual. While identifying the Eph players may be more difficult, so far there has been a noticeable difference on the ice.

Williams scored two first period goals and then suffocated Southern Maine (USM) with intense offensive and defensive pressure as they held on to defeat USM 2-1 on Saturday.

The win, the third in a row for Williams, came after the Ephs beat Salem State 4-1 on Friday.

For the second night in a row, the Ephs (4-2-0) dominated the game but could not pull away. However, they beat USM goalie Tim Claus just enough times to come away with a win.

?We controlled the whole game and kept firing a lot of shots on them, but their goalie played a good game,? said manager Allen Coker ?03.

Ryan Sochacki ?04 broke a scoreless tie less than six minutes into the game when he picked up a loose puck in front of the net and banged it home for a 1-0 lead. Wes Fox ?03 and Chip Canner ?04 assisted on the play.

The Ephs? second goal came in similar fashion. Late in the first period, with the Ephs on the power play, captain Andrew Beasley ?02 banged home a rebound for his second goal in as many nights.

Dave Conyers ?04 and captain Dan Cotuno ?02 chipped in with assists on Beasley?s goal.

After that, Claus (42 saves) shut the door on the Ephs? attack. Luckily for Williams, goalie Mike Aroesty ?03 was just as good. Aroesty, who splits time in net with Ben Fash ?04, made the most of his opportunity by stopping 23 of 24 shots for his second win of the year. USM?s only goal came midway through the third when John Lauztere scored off an assist from Tony Coates. The win was the third in a row for the Ephs.

Friday night?s home opener for the Ephs was the first opportunity for most people to see this year?s hockey team in action, and fans did not leave disappointed.

Fox scored two goals and Fash made 23 saves as the smaller, quicker Ephs defeated Salem State 4-1 and handed the Vikings (4-1-0) their first loss of the season.

?It was our speed versus their size,? said Coker. ?Speed won.?

The forward line of Fox, Canner and Jake Clapton ?05 was spectacular all night, and they set up the game?s first goal early in the opening period.

Canner, who took a pass from Clapton behind the net, made a beautiful centering feed to Fox, who put the one-timer just past the right pad of Vikings goalie Kaleb Christenson.

Later in the period, Canner made the same pass to Fox, but Christenson turned the shot away to keep the score 1-0.

In the second, after Williams had done a great job killing off a 5-3 Salem State power play, the Ephs cashed in on their own man-advantage. Clapton recorded his second assist on the night when he found Fox at the top of the left circle, who faked a shot. When none of the defenders went to play him, Fox let a slap-shot rip that beat Christenson and gave Williams a 2-0 advantage.

Salem State got on the board late in the second period. With Sochacki serving a penalty, defenseman Nick Stauder blasted a shot from the blue-line that Fash never saw as the puck found the bottom left corner of the net.

That would be all Fash would allow, however, as he earned his second win of the season.

With Fash turning in a solid effort in goal, the Ephs put the game away late in the third period. Canner took a face-off from the right circle and when the puck started trickling towards the Salem State goal, Canner was the only one who went after it. He put it right through the legs of Christenson to give the Ephs a 3-1 advantage. Beasley ?02 added an empty net goal in the final minute. Cotuno contributed two assists for the Ephs.

Williams has two more games next weekend before a three-week break due to final exams and the holiday season. First, the team squares off against Elmira College on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Saturday will see the Ephmen taking on RIT at 4:00 p.m. Both games will be played at Williams.