Men’s hockey splits pair with Middlebury

Last weekend, men’s ice hockey (13-6-3, 10-4-2 in the NESCAC) took on Middlebury twice, falling 3-1 on Sunday after a 6-2 win on Saturday.

In the men’s face-off with Middlebury on Sunday, the Panthers revenged their loss on Saturday. Starting off the game with a power play and subsequently a penalty kill, the Ephs and Panthers did not capitalize on either of their chances. Halfway into the period, a Middlebury forward skated the puck down the left flank of the ice and took a shot. Goalie Sean Dougherty ’15 made the initial save, but a Panther forward got his stick on the loose puck in the slot and buried it home to put Middlebury up 1-0. Eric Rubino ’13 and assistant captain Nick Anderson ’14 had a chance to tie the score when they had a shorthanded two-on-one rush, but they were unsuccessful and the period ended with Middlebury ahead 1-0.

Less than a minute into the second period Dougherty saved an initial shot, but the rebound was scooped up once more by a Middlebury forward, who scored and put Middlebury in the lead 2-0. Dougherty made many key saves in the following nine minutes that kept the Ephs in the game. After a bombardment of shots, the men responded by notching their first goal of the game. Co-captain John Wickman ’13 fed the puck to forward Mike Erickson ’16, who in turn passed it to Cody Skinner ’13 in front of the net for a quick wrister, decreasing the deficit to 2-1.

Two minutes into the final frame, the Panthers tallied their third goal of the game from a quick catch-and-release by an open Middlebury forward. This goal lit a flame under the men, generating some of the closest chances of the game. Craig Kitto ’15 almost put the puck past the Middlebury netminder with a nice pass from Paul Steinig ’14. However, the Panther goaltender thwarted this attempt. Williams Head Coach Bill Kangas pulled the goalie with two minutes left to get a six-on-five advantage, hoping to put two goals in the net. Unfortunately, the two minutes ran out too quickly for the Ephs to capitalize. The game ended 3-1 in Middlebury’s favor. Dougherty had 22 saves.

Last Saturday, the day before this loss, the men took on Middlebury in their last regular season home game, ending with a decisive 6-2 win. The men started out the game on fire, getting their first scoring opportunity just a minute and a half after the drop of the puck with a nice pass from senior forward Skinner to co-captain Mark Lyons ’13, who got a shot on goal that was denied by Middlebury goalie Dan Fullam. The Ephs’ offensive efforts soon paid off with a goal from forward and assistant captain Evan Dugdale ’13 assisted by defenseman Steinig and Lyons 12 minutes into the period. Despite more scoring chances for both teams, the first ended with the Ephs up 1-0.

The Ephs continued their offensive charge in the second period, getting their first scoring opportunity just four minutes into the period with a power-play advantage. Defenseman Steinig put the Ephs up 2-0 at 4:17, netting a rebound off a shot of fellow defenseman Zander Mascucci ’16 from the point. The Panthers responded two minutes later with a goal of their own, making the score 2-1 at 6:15. The Ephs soon put the game out of the Panthers’ reach with an onslaught of goals starting 13 minutes into the period. Wickman began the charge, accepting a pass from Skinner and wristing the puck past Middlebury’s Fullam to put the men up 3-1 at 13:16.

Just two minutes later, forwards Lyons and Anderson capitalized on a two-on-one opportunity with a goal from Anderson and an assist from Lyons, making the score 4-1 at 15:57. The Ephs kept their offensive heat up til the end of the period, getting yet another goal with less than two minutes left in the second from forward Kitto. The second ended with the Ephs in the lead 5-1.

The Ephs did not let up in the third period. Wickman netted his second goal of the game midway through the period off a rebound, putting the Ephs out of reach with a 6-1 lead. The Panthers tied up the period with a goal 16 minutes into the third, but the game ended with a 6-2 win for the Ephs. Dougherty had a strong showing, blocking 34 of 36 shots by the end of the game.

Dougherty credited the win to the Ephs’ focus on the basics. “Coach Kangas was stressing all week our need to get more pucks on net, so our goal going into the game was to just test the goaltender and bang away at rebounds,” Dougherty said. “We did just that in the second, and the puck found its way into the back of the net.”

The men will close out their season on the road this weekend. They face Amherst on Friday at 7 p.m. and Hamilton on Saturday at 3 p.m.