By TARJINDER SINGH
Men’s ice hockey (7-4-2, 3-1-1 in the NESCAC) competed in Maine with mixed results this past weekend, handily defeating Colby (4-8-1, 3-6-0) 4-2 on Friday but losing to Bowdoin (7-5-1, 4-4-1) 3-8 on Sunday. The loss to Bowdoin marked Williams’ first conference loss of the season and placed the Ephs fourth in the NESCAC behind Middlebury, Trinity and Amherst.
The Ephs entered Sunday’s game against the Polar Bears with the momentum off Friday’s win and a streak of strong performances in the conference, while the Polar Bears had lost four consecutive games.
The first period began with aggressive play and concentrated back-and-forth action from both teams. Williams successfully squashed Bowdoin’s first goal attempt with the help of goalie Marc Pulde ’10, but Bowdoin’s relentless attacks culminated in two goals at 9:13 and 15:29 in the first period. In an effective power-play, Brian Malcoff ’11, assisted by Andrew Lepore ’10 and co-captain Alex Smigelski ’10, scored the Ephs’ first goal, ending the first period with a close score of 2-1.
Bowdoin strengthened its lead in the second period with an early goal, but at 12:27, Matt Draheim ’09 raced to the net and scored a short-handed goal to shrink the gap. The Polar Bears delivered another goal a quick minute later, but Matt Masucci ’11 responded by catching a rebound and slapping the puck in. The second period ended with a score of 4-3.
In the final period, however, the Polar Bears sealed their victory with four more goals. Bowdoin scored at 6:10 and 7:04. A series of aggressive plays by Williams brought on a string of penalties, forcing the team into defensive mode. Bowdoin, seizing every opportunity, scored two additional goals with a power play at 16:05 and a successful two-person assist at 17:48.
Whereas the Ephs took 13 shots on goal compared to the Polar Bears’ nine in the first period and 11 shots on goal compared to the Polar Bears’ 12 in the second period, the final portion of the game saw a wider margin in Bowdoin’s favor. Bowdoin’s ability to make four out of 13 shots on goal compared to Williams’ 0-for-4 gave rise to an 8-3 win for the home team.
In the first of the two periods of Friday’s matchup, the Ephs combined offensive and defensive skill to shut out the Mules. Ryan Young ’11 and Masucci assisted a goal from Ryan Scott ’12 14:26 into the first period. Colby and Williams both made seven attempts on goal for the period, but Scott was the only player to execute.
A mere eight seconds into the second period, Octavian Jordan ’10, assisted by Scott, scored a second goal for the Ephs. With only four attempts on goal from the Mules and no penalties for either team, the second period ended with a score of 2-0. The Ephs began the third period decisively as Smigelski scored two goals within the first six minutes of the third period. Though the Mules launched a counter-attack soon after to capture their first two goals of the game, the Ephs maintained the two goal lead to claim a 4-2 victory.
The team’s defense lacked the strength the Ephs needed in the final period. “We were a little bit inconsistent,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said. “One of the things we’ve been talking about is defending well. We didn’t defend that well and gave them some opportunities to cash in.”
The team also beat Wesleyan 2-0 on Jan. 3 and Skidmore 4-0 on Jan. 9. In consecutive overtime games, the men also tied Castleton 3-3 and Middlebury 4-4 on Jan. 10 and Jan. 13, respectively. The Ephs had a 9-11-4 record last winter before losing to the Panthers in the quarterfinals, and their ability to tie the Panthers in a well-played comeback game bodes well for the rest of the season. “What we’ve learned about ourselves in the first half of the season will help us as we move forward to our four home game stretch,” Kangas said.
The team will play two home games this weekend, against New England and St. Anselm Friday and Saturday, respectively.