Men’s hockey hosts Swedish team

Men’s ice hockey fell 8-2 to Sweden’s Junior National team in a preseason game on Friday. Despite the men’s strong showing, the Ephs simply couldn’t overcome the strength of a team that includes two potential top-10 NHL picks.

Williams netminder Ryan Purdy ’12, along with the defense, fought hard to stave off the Swedish attack but couldn’t stop the opponent’s offense. Sweden led 3-0 by the end of the first period. Two of the goals came in the first four minutes of the game; the third was scored with less than five minutes left on the clock, at the 15:54 mark.

The Ephs increased their intensity in the second period, which led to more offensive chances but also more penalties: The men gave up nine power plays on the night, four of which Sweden turned into goals.

Captain Matt Masucci ’11 put his team on the board late in the second period. Sweden was leading 5-0 thanks to two more scores, one just 43 second in and one at the 10:49 mark. Connor Olvany ’11 fired a shot that ricocheted off the goalie, and Masucci, positioned right in front of the goal, recovered the puck and buried it in the back of the net for a 5-1 score and the first goal of the Ephs’ season.

Three more Swedish goals in the final period put the score at 8-1 before Cody Skinner ’13 redirected a shot by Justin Troiani ’12 past the Swedish netminder for a goal. The score remained at 8-2 until time ran out.

Purdy made 39 saves during the men’s inaugural performance of the season, with Sweden outshooting the men 47-21.

“We played a solid game considering the talent of team Sweden and the little time we have had on the ice as a team,” Masucci said. “Obviously it is frustrating to lose like that, but we took a lot of positives away from Friday night and now we know what we have to work on to be successful this season.”

Masucci cited the strong base of returning players as the men’s key strength against Sweden, and he is also looking forward to the upcoming season. “We have the core of our team from last year back,” he said, “so if everyone can stay focused and healthy, we feel we have the talent to earn the first NCAA tournament bid in program history.”

The men will have one more week to prepare before their first regular season game on Nov. 19. A preview of the Ephs’ season will run in next week’s edition.