Ephs drop Jumbos, advance to semis

On Saturday, the fifth-seeded men (12-8-5, 8-8-2 in the NESCAC) faced off against fourth-seeded Tufts in a NESCAC quarterfinal match that ended in an exciting 4-3 overtime win for Williams. Forward John Wickman ’13 netted the game-winning goal 14 minutes into overtime play to win the game for the Ephs.

Though both teams fought hard during the first period, the game remained scoreless until the last minute of the frame. With two minutes left, co-captain Justin Troiani ’12 received a penalty for crosschecking, giving the Jumbos the man advantage. Tufts’ leading scorer Kyle Gallegos took advantage of the power play and netted a goal at 18:59. Tufts then defended its 1-0 lead for the remainder of the period.

The Jumbos started off the second period action with a goal within the first minutes of play. Jumbo forward Evan Story ’12 received a pass from teammate Matt Amico ’12 in front of the net and hammered the puck past Eph goaltender Ryan Purdy ’12 to make the score 2-0 just 1:15 into the frame. Williams answered with a goal five minutes later off a power- play opportunity. Linemate Craig Kitto ’15 passed the puck to fellow classmate Peter Mistretta ’15, who wristed the puck past Jumbo netminder Scott Barchard ’12 for a 2-1 tally.

With time to play, the Ephs closed the Jumbo lead with another goal 15 minutes into the period. Forward David Jarrett ’15 slid the puck over to Matt Doyle ’14, who rocketed the puck into the top right corner of the goal to knot the score at 2-2. A power-play opportunity two minutes later gave the Ephs an opportunity to seize the lead for the first time in the game. Forward Evan Dugdale ’13 capitalized on a rebound in front of the net and scored the Ephs’ third goal of the game, boosting the score up to 3-2. Defensemen Mike Brofft ’13 and Troiani earned assists for the goal.

“We took advantage of a power-play opportunity and scored a nice goal to get on the [Tufts] board,” said co-captain Steve Maier ’12 regarding the Ephs’ second-period comeback. “We used that momentum and outplayed Tufts in every facet of the game, and fortunately put two more in the net by the end of the period.”

Despite the Ephs’ domination in the second period, the Jumbos came back fighting during the third. Troiani received a penalty for hooking six minutes into the period, giving the Jumbos another power-play opportunity. The Jumbos quickly took advantage of playing a man up, netting a goal 30 seconds into the penalty to make the score 3-3. Though both Tufts and Williams would both earn one more power-play opportunity, neither team capitalized and the score remained 3-3 for the rest of the period, forcing the game into overtime.

Overtime proved to be a nail-biter as the referees called off goals for both teams. Tufts struck first as the puck slid past the goal line, but Purdy knocked the net off before the puck crossed the goal line, leading the referees to wave the goal off. Williams nearly notched a goal of its own just five minutes later, but the referees also dismissed the score after deciding that the puck had been kicked across the line.

With seven minutes left in overtime, Wickman sealed the game for the Ephs by scoring the team’s fourth goal. Assisted by Brofft and Kitto, Wickman scored off of a rebound from Brofft’s shot from the point amid a scuffle in front of the net.

Saturday’s situation was nothing new for the men: The Ephs have played eight overtime contests this season. “It certainly helps with comfort level because we have played so many overtime games and we know we have the ability to win, but the playoff atmosphere is a different world,” Maier said.

The men continue postseason play in the NESCAC semfinal match against Amherst on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Ephs will travel to the Jeffs’ home ice to compete. Amherst presents a formidable challenge as the top seed in the tournament: The Jeffs went 21-3-1 in the regular season this year. The championship game will be played on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Amherst.