Ephs earn second-place finish at NESCACs

On Saturday, men’s ice hockey (17-7-3, 12-4-2 in the NESCAC) faced off against top-seeded Bowdoin for the NESCAC championship game. Facing an early two-goal deficit, the Ephs lost the NESCAC final to the Polar Bears 2-1.

Both teams generated offense from the drop of the puck, testing each other’s goalies with shots. Ten minutes into the period, however, a penalty on Williams gave Bowdoin a power-play opportunity, which the Polar Bears quickly capitalized on, scoring their first goal a 1:30 into the penalty. Both teams continued to battle to finish on top at the end of the period, but Bowdoin outlasted the women. With only four seconds left in the period, the Polar Bears scored a second goal, ending the period in the lead 2-0.

The second period saw little five-on-five action as seven penalties total were called on both teams. The Ephs managed to kill five penalties successfully, keeping the Polar Bears from scoring. They did not capitalize on their two power-play opportunities, however, ending the period still down 2-0.

The Ephs started the third period with a sense of urgency, immediately generating offense. Just over a minute seconds into the period, co-captain Mark Lyons ’13 created a turnover in the Bowdoin zone and got a good shot on goalie Max Fenkell. Fenkell blocked the initial shot, but he could not stop forward and assistant captain Evan Dugdale ’13 from slipping the rebound into the net. The score was now 2-1, still in favor of the Polar Bears. The Ephs got a chance to tie up the game 12 minutes into the period as a penalty was called on Bowdoin, giving Williams a man advantage. However, Bowdoin successfully held off the Williams’ offense and ended the game with a 2-1 win.

“We played really well in the third period but couldn’t get the equalizer,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said. “I am really proud of the guys though. I hope they realize we played our best hockey in that game and in that last period.”

On Friday the men battled with Trinity in the NESCAC semifinal game to come out with a 4-2 win and advance to their second NESCAC final in a row. Trinity would prove to be a challenge for Williams, as the men had not beaten them in the regular season.

The Bantams started out the first with a strong offense, immediately applying pressure to Eph goalie Sean Dougherty ’15. Their efforts paid off seven minutes into the period with a rebound goal that Bantam forward Tim Shea tipped past Dougherty, putting Trinity up 1-0. Despite a Trinity penalty four minutes later, the Ephs could not tie up the score and the period ended with the Bantams in the lead 1-0.

The Ephs came out on fire at the start of the second. Just a little over a minute into the period, they tied up the game with a nice play from forward Cody Skinner ’13 and defenseman Mike Brofft ’13. Skinner carried the puck into the Bantam zone and dropped the puck to Brofft, who was waiting in the slot. Brofft took a wrist shot that sailed past Bantam goalie Benjamin Coulthard to tie the game at 1-1. The Ephs continued their offensive momentum and got another prime scoring opportunity just five minutes later with a power play. Forward and assistant captain Nick Anderson ’14 made a nice pass to Craig Kitto ’15, who one-timed the puck past Coulthard, putting the Ephs up 2-1. Despite a power-play opportunity for the Bantams a minute later, the Ephs successfully kept the puck out of the net and ended the period in the lead.

Both teams came out strong at the start of the third period, battling to try to continue on to the championship game. However, Williams made the next mark on the scoreboard. Forward Eric Rubino ’13 went on a rush four minutes into the period, carrying the puck from the defensive to the offensive zone. In the offensive zone, he beat the Bantam defenseman and made a backhanded shot that went top shelf past Coulthard. Rubino’s goal put the Ephs up 3-1. Just two minutes later, the Bantams responded with a goal of their own, putting them just one goal behind the Ephs. Despite scoring opportunities for both teams, including a power play for the Bantams, the score remained 3-2 for most of the third. In the last minute of play, the Bantams pulled their goalie in a last ditch attempt to tie up the game. The Ephs kept the puck out of the net and with 38 seconds left in the period, they put their lead out of reach with another goal. Defenseman Paul Steinig ’14 got the puck in the defensive zone and shot the puck from the blue line, which slid into the empty net, ending the game with a 4-2 Williams win.

With Saturday’s loss, the men ended their tournament run and concluded their season. The Ephs will graduate six seniors this year: Brofft, Dugdale, Lyons, Rubino, Skinner and co-captain John Wickman ’13.