Men’s ice hockey success slows

Men’s ice hockey (7-3-1, 5-3 in the NESCAC) has had a disappointing run since the return from winter break, going 1-3-1 since they opened the season 6-0 and dominated nearly every opponent they faced. On Monday, Williams battled hard against third-ranked Plattsburgh State, holding its own to finish the game tied at 1-1. Back-to-back losses to Trinity and Wesleyan on Friday and Saturday followed a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Hamilton on Jan. 9 and a 4-1 loss to Amherst on Jan. 8.

The competitive nature of the Williams-Plattsburgh game Monday was a pleasant surprise, considering the Cardinals’ 6-1 defeat of the Ephs last season. The Ephs didn’t get on the board until the second period, when Mark Lyons ’13, making his debut at Chapman Rink, fired a shot that rebounded off goalkeeper Chris Wieland to Eph assistant captain Matt Masucci ’11. Masucci did the rest of the work, hammering the puck past Wieland to put the Ephs up 1-0 with 13:44 to play in the second period. Unfortunately, the Cardinals quickly answered Masucci’s goal with one of their own just 34 seconds later.

The 1-1 score tally remained for rest of the game. In overtime, Massuci nearly managed to pull his team ahead when he took the puck from his own zone all the way down to challenge the goaltender, but his shot didn’t quite hit the mark. Despite the Ephs’ best efforts, the game ended in a draw.
Head Coach Bill Kangas was relieved to see his team coming back from their post-break slump. “Last night was a good start for us … we got back to what we’d been doing prior to break,” he explained. “We [worked] hard in all three zones, defended well [and] competed well.”

On Saturday, the Ephs fell to Trinity in the second of back-to-back road games. All seemed well as an unanswered goal from Cody Skinner ’13 from Masucci and Connor Olvany ’11 at the 11:31 mark of the first period allowed the Ephs to go into the locker room up 1-0.

A Bantam goal only five minutes into the period and another later on in the second left the Ephs down 2-1 as they headed into the third. While the team stepped up their intensity, the 25 saves made by Bantam goalkeeper Wesley Vesprini thwarted the Ephs’ best efforts. Goalkeeper Ryan Purdy ’12, who made 31 saves on the loss, left the ice just before the four minute mark in an attempt to give Williams the offensive edge it would need to pull off a win. An empty-net goal put the final score at 4-1.

Williams fell to Wesleyan 6-2 in the Little Three second place game on Friday. Wesleyan scored four straight goals to open the game. Mike Brofft ’13 finally put the Ephs on the board with only six minutes to play in the second period, with help on the assist from Andrew Lepore ’10 and Ryan Scott ’12.

Going into the third period down 4-1, the Ephs mounted a comeback as Masucci got the puck to Justin Troiani ’12 midway through the third period during a power play. Troiani fired the puck into the back of the net, bringing the score to 5-2. One more Cardinals goal rounded out the game, putting the final score at 6-2 in only the fourth Wesleyan victory over 46 all-time Wesleyan-Williams competitions.

Williams triumphed over Hamilton in overtime on Jan. 9, defending ts home ice and walking away with a 3-2 victory. Zach Miller ’11 and captain Alex Smigelski ’10 scored goals in regulation, but the Continentals were able to counter and force overtime. In the overtime, Skinner brought it home for his team, collecting the puck from Masucci and burying a shot in the back of the net to clinch the Eph win just 1:05 into the extra period.

Amherst, at the time ranked no. 14, defeated Williams at home on Jan. 8 in a 4-1 upset. Behind 2-0 entering the third period, the Ephs could not come back, as the team traded goals with the Jeffs to make the score 3-1 before an empty-net goal put the final score at 4-1.

“We just have to focus on what we’re good at,” Kangas said. “We [have to] get back to [playing with] strong individual and team efforts.”

The men will take to the road again next week, playing at St Anselm at 7 p.m. on Friday and then traveling to New England College, where the puck will drop at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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