The Trinity campus was not a kind place to Williams on Saturday.
Hours after the basketball team was bounced from the NESCAC tournament at Trinity, men’s hockey saw its season end in disappointment with a 4-1 loss to the Bantams.
The Ephs were outplayed throughout, as the Bantams out-shot the Ephs 40-22 and held Williams to only three shots in the third period. Trinity advances to the semifinals at Middlebury where they will take on Bowdoin.
After Trinity had taken a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Ryan Beale and Steven LaBrie, Williams mounted a mini-comeback. Chip Canner ’04 cut the lead in half when he scored at 10:51 of the second off an assist from Matt Goethals ’04.
However, that would be all the scoring on the day for Williams, and when LaBrie scored his second goal of the game late in the second period it seemed to take all wind out of the demoralized Ephs’ sails. Jeffrey Griffin scored an empty-netter to cap the scoring.
Mike Aroesty ’03 played well in goal for the Ephs as he made 36 saves, but his counterpart, Geoffrey Faulkner, stopped 21 of 22 shots to lead his team to victory.
“It was a really tough game,” tri-captain Andrew Beasley ’02 said. “We hung tough but they really beat us to the loose puck, and as difficult as it is to admit it they outplayed us. I think that we were always willing to fight back throughout the whole game, and there were moments where we stepped it up and really took it to them, but in the end they outplayed us and out-hit us, and that’s why they won.”
Despite the early exit in the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Ephs can be satisfied with their season overall. Their 14 wins were five more than last year’s squad tallied, and this year’s team is younger and less experienced than last year’s, which bodes well for the future of men’s hockey at Williams.
The Ephs also showed they could play with the top teams in the country. In addition to wins over top-10 teams like Elmira, St. Norbert and Salem St., the Ephs hung with the likes of Middlebury, St. John’s and Norwich despite falling to those perennial powerhouses.
Above all, the Ephs played as a team the entire year, sacrificing individual statistics for team victories. The balanced offensive attack included 12 players with at least 10 or more points, four more than a year ago. Only three players on the team had more goals than assists, once again a show of the unselfish play of this team.
Individually, Beasley and fellow tri-captain Dan Cotuno ’02 finished off their respective careers with fine seasons. Beasley (12 goals, 18 assists) led the Ephs in scoring, while Cotuno was not far behind with 11 goals and 15 assists. More importantly, it was their leadership and tireless play that gave this team an identity.
“It was an amazing season,” Beasley said. “As I look back on it now I realize that it’s very unusual to feel this positive about a season where you don’t win a championship. The way this team jelled together and played together, nobody ever thought about who would get the credit, everyone played for each other, and that’s something I’ll never forget.
“As I think back about how much hockey has meant to me and the role it has played in my life, I couldn’t ask for a better team to go out with. It was just a great group of guys this year and it was a pleasure playing with them.”
Wes Fox ’03 had an explosive offensive season, tying Beasley for the team lead in goals, and Craig Wadman ’03 had a breakout year with 16 points. Jabe Bergeron ’04 emerged as a physical force both offensively and defensively and gave Williams some size that it had been lacking.
Defensively, the Ephs only allowed 2.69 goals per game. A large reason for that impressive number was the defense, led by tri-captain Dan Houck ’02 and Brent Kozel ’02. Houck led all defenders in scoring and routinely frustrated opponents’ top offensive players. Kozel, one of the most colorful athletes ever to grace the Williams campus, most likely set a school record for checking opponents over the boards and onto the benches.
The goalie rotation of Aroesty and Ben Fash ’04 was effective, as both finished with nearly identical statitics. Matt Starkey ’02 tied an NCAA record having never allowed a goal in his Williams career. We’ll miss you, Starkey.