Men’s ice hockey (14-8-2, 12-5-2 in the NESCAC) struggled last weekend in the final two games of the regular season, narrowly losing to Hamilton 3-2 in overtime Friday before Amherst delivered the team a 6-0 shutout on Saturday. Although the two losses ended the Ephs’ three-game winning streak, Williams ends the regular season third in the NESCAC conference, improving on last year’s 7-8-4, 9-11-4 record.
The men arrived at Amherst on Saturday ready to play their last regular season game against the conference front runners. This year, the Jeffs had particularly high stakes in this game – with one more win in the regular season, they would secure the tournament’s top seed for the first time in NESCAC history. The Ephs looked to this game to gain momentum going into the NESCAC tournament, particularly after a close contest against Hamilton the day before.
The first period saw much back-and-forth action as both teams exchanged penalties. Amherst appeared to get off to the better offensive start, making 12 shots on goal compared to Williams’ five. Goalie Ryan Purdy ’12, however, made many brilliant saves, supporting the Ephs’ defense steadily. The first period ended with a 0-0 score and only three penalties committed by both teams.
Williams dominated the offense in the second period, taking 16 shots on goal to Amherst’s seven. Over the span of the period, the Jeffs committed three penalties, and the opportunity for a game changer appeared. Disappointingly, the Ephs were unable to capitalize on the many power play opportunities that cropped up. Williams attacked relentlessly, but Amherst’s goalie JonathanÃ‚Â Larose proved particularly defiant, delivering many crucial saves that left the score at 0-0.
The game broke open in the third period when the Jeffs launched six straight goals. Amherst scored the first goal of the game at 1:05. The Ephs earned four penalties, and the Jeffs responded with four goals, three from power play opportunities. Williams failed to regain momentum in the face of Amherst’s aggressive play, and at 17:39 into the period, the Jeffs scored the final goal to end the game 6-0 in their favor.
Although the team seemed relatively level with its opponents until the third, the Jeffs successfully capitalized on critical power play opportunities to sweep the game. Much credit is due to Amherst’s goalie, who made 29 total saves.
The day before, the Ephs arrived at Hamilton riding on three consecutive wins, while Hamilton had lost two the previous weekend. The first period saw extremely rough play, with Hamilton committing the first penalty 10 seconds into the game and Williams committing a penalty 14 seconds later. Williams and Hamilton then exchanged penalties at 10:52, and in the subsequent two minutes of five-on-five play, the Ephs gained a quick 2-0. Justin Troiani ’12, assisted by Brett Haraguchi ’09, scored the first goal of the game at 10:53, and less than a minute later, at 11:43, Ryan Scott ’12, assisted by Sasha Voloshin ’12, made a spectacular shot at net. Williams dominated the offense, making 14 shots on goal compared to Hamilton’s six.
In the second period, Williams continued to lead the offensive, taking 11 shots on goal to Hamilton’s four, but the team was unsuccessful in getting another shot in the net. The Continentals had two power play opportunities, but failed to score on either one, leaving the score 2-0.
Hamilton took its offensive game to a new level in the third period, scoring with a power play at 4:14. Less than a minute later, the Continentals scored another. The third period ended in a 2-2 stalemate. Williams made three attempts on goal during overtime, but Hamilton was able to score first. The game ended 2:23 in overtime with a score of 3-2.
Co-captain Alex Smigelski ’10 spoke to the team’s hopes for the future. “We definitely learned a lot from last weekend but we know it’s in the past and we’re moving forward,” Smigelski said. “We are focused now on beating Bowdoin and making a statement for Williams hockey.”
The team will play Bowdoin in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament this weekend. Saturday’s game will definitely be one to watch out for: it will be the first time Williams plays Bowdoin in the NESCAC tournament, and the Ephs look to enter their first semi-final since 2000. Still suffering from injuries, the Ephs will have to depend on the leadership and teamwork of their younger players in Saturday’s home quarterfinal.