Men’s ice hockey wins two straight

Men’s ice hockey (15-5-3, 13-5-1 in the NESCAC) finished out a strong regular season with two decisive wins on the road over Castleton and Skidmore on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Williams won both games 4-1.

It took the men a while to find the back of the net on Saturday against Skidmore, as the first period ended 0-0. However, Williams outshot Skidmore 10-3 on the period and clearly had the offensive edge it needed as they headed into the break.

9:14 into the second period, Brian Malchoff ’11 nailed a power play goal to put his team up 1-0. Three minutes later, Mike Brofft ’13 doubled the Ephs’ lead with a wrist shot that sent the puck flying into the back of the net, and the men took the 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

Williams kept the offensive barrage up as the third period began, as Connor Olvany ’11 put the puck in the net just 59 seconds into the third period. His goal was answered by Thoroughbred first-year Brendan Cottam at 14:13, but Olvany’s teammate Ben Contini ’11 pushed the Ephs’ lead back up to three a mere 24 seconds later.

While Skidmore did step up its offensive game during the course of the third period, taking 16 of its 22 shots of the game during those 20 minutes alone, Williams netminder Ryan Purdy ’12 stopped 15 of 16 in the period and made 21 stops on the game to keep the Thoroughbreds out of contention for the win.

The men slammed Castleton Friday night and came home with their first 4-1 win of the weekend under their belts.

The first period saw Williams struggle to create a strong offensive drive: The Spartans outshot the Ephs eight to five in the period. Williams’ defense, however, held Castleton scoreless until the men could rally.

Seven minutes into the second period, Smigelski fired the puck past the Spartan netminder off an assist from Matt Masucci ’11 to give the Ephs a 1-0 lead. The defense continued to hold down the fort until the last two minutes of the period, when Spartan Eric Curtis snuck a shot just beyond goalkeeper Purdy. Before Castleton could even revel in tying up the game, however, Cody Skinner ’13 found teammate Eric Rubino ’13, who put another score on the board for Williams and push the Ephs back on top 2-1 as the teams headed into the locker room.

Rubino kept the momentum going into the third period, coming out right away to collect the puck from Masucci and go straight to net for his second goal of the night put his team ahead by a decisive 3-1 margin. The Ephs held onto their lead, with strong defense shutting Castleton down through three more power plays. Malchoff scored an empty net goal in the last 30 seconds of the game to total the men’s score to four.

“[We] clearly played some very good hockey this past weekend,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said when asked about the men’s recent success. “Special teams … played [particularly] well.”

Williams, sitting at No. 3 in the NESCAC, will go up against NESCAC No. 6 Hamilton on Saturday night in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Ephs took down the Continentals in a closely matched Jan. 9 game, prevailing 3-2 in overtime. Thanks to the men’s home ice advantage, the puck will drop at 7 p.m. at Lansing Chapman rink.

The men aren’t expecting anything but competitive hockey this weekend. “It’s always good to be at home,” Kangas stated. “There are lots of positives while we’re here, but we’re not going to take anything for granted.”

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