Men’s ice hockey (14-6-2, 12-3-2 in the NESCAC) retained its third place position in the NESCAC standings with two impressive wins at home this weekend. The men won a thrilling, back-and-forth matchup on Friday against UMass Boston (8-13-1). The team then dominated Babson (9-12-1) on Saturday afternoon, earning a 5-1 victory in the process.
As the last regular season home game, Saturday’s contest sent the Williams seniors out in style. After a pre-game ceremony to honor the seniors, the Ephs came out quickly. Skating hard from the first drop of the puck, Williams notched its first goal only 4:13 into the first period when Octavian Jordan ’10 sent a pass behind the net to Ryan Young ’11, who then managed to score his eighth goal of the season. Matt Draheim ’09 also scored his eighth goal of the year on a one-timer in front towards the end of the period.
In the second period, Sasha Voloshin ’12 scored an unassisted goal on a wrap-around from behind the net. Not even two minutes later Young helped Jordan slide the puck into an essentially wide-open net. The team headed into the locker room with a comfortable 4-0 cushion.
The men continued their impressive offensive performance in the third as first-year defenseman Stephen Maier ’12 slid the puck to Brett Haraguchi ’09 who then placed it in the top shelf for the Ephs’ lone power play goal of the game. Babson finally put the puck into the net with 1:10 remaining in the game, after Ryan Purdy ’12 had already made 29 crucial saves.
“We knew Babson was a hot team and we would have our hands full on Saturday,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said. “Ryan Purdy made some timely saves, and the kids scored some timely goals. They played with a lot of confidence and moved the puck very well. The goal is always to improve from Friday to Saturday, and we definitely did that this weekend.”
The night before, the Ephs victory was not as easy as Williams struggled under the offensive pressure of the Beacons for the first half of the first period. However, after co-captain Chris Fahey ’09 received a pass at the point from fellow defenseman Justin Troiani ’12 and fired a slap shot, Draheim deflected the puck into the upper corner with nine minutes left in the period for a power play goal and the surge the men needed. Draheim found the top corner not even three minutes later as he received a quick pass from the corner from Conor Olvany ’11. The Ephs closed the first period with a 2-0 lead.
The men struggled to regain their momentum in the second period. The Ephs found themselves in the penalty box numerous times, giving the Beacons four power play opportunities. UMass successfully capitalized on two of these opportunities to tie up the game within seven minutes of the start of the period. Beacon Vinnie Jacona added to the Ephs’ woes with six minutes left by scoring on a breakaway and giving his team the lead heading into the third.
The Ephs came out of the locker room fired up and ready to play in the third. Draheim ’09 returned the earlier favor by assisting Fahey, who rocketed a slap shot into the back of the net a mere 2:13 into the period. The game remained tied until Ryan Young ’11 was able to take advantage of a loose puck in the Beacon zone and score the game-winning goal. Despite being outshot and registering six penalties, the Ephs solidified a victory.
“Friday night showed us that we can’t ever take anything for granted,” Kangas said. “Babson came in ranked last in their league and showed us that you have to play hard all the time any given day for a full 60 minutes. Our penalties cost us the momentum and the lead in the second period, but we regained our composure in the third. All in all, it’s always a plus to come out with a win when you head into the third down a goal.”
With these two hard-fought wins, the team has clinched a home seed in the playoffs, which will begin on Feb. 28. “We are happy that we clinched the home seed ourselves without anyone’s help,” Kangas said. “The guys are realizing that we have to get better, and to do so we have to have good practices. That leaves us three good days to work hard and improve this week. We know that the top three seeds are up for grabs this weekend.”
Men’s hockey will be on the road for its final two games of the regular season. They will travel to Hamilton on Friday and then face rival Amherst on Saturday.