Men’s ice hockey (1-0-1, 1-0-1 in the NESCAC) began its campaign last weekend against NESCAC foes Colby and Bowdoin at Lansing Chapman Rink. Playing to a 1-1 overtime draw after squandering a late lead against Colby on Saturday, the men came out and trounced a strong Bowdoin squad 5-2 on Sunday.
As defending NESCAC champions, Bowdoin provided an immediate test for the young Williams team on Sunday afternoon. The game began with a quick pace, marked by clean transition hockey as both teams created odd-man rushes that were thwarted by strong defense and persistent back-checking. Williams struck first at 5:12 of the first period. After a strong forecheck from co-captain Nick Anderson ’14 forced a turnover deep in the Bowdoin zone, he slid a backhanded pass to linemate Craig Kitto ’15, who was streaking down the wing. Kitto drove to the goal and found James McNamara ’17 waiting on the opposite post. James McNamara banged home the goal, the first of his collegiate career.
The men maintained their early 1-0 lead, as neither team garnered quality scoring opportunities for the middle portion of the period until Williams found the back of the net, as Kitto ripped a shot from the left faceoff circle into the top corner of the goal with assists by Anderson and Zander Masucci ’16 to extend the men’s lead to 2-0.
After gaining a power play with just minutes left in the first period, the Ephs continued to pressure the Polar Bear defense. However, getting complacent with a stable lead and a man-advantage, a Williams turnover led to a Bowdoin fast break as Bowdoin’s Harry Matheson cut the men’s lead in half on a short-handed goal. The men went into the locker room with a 2-1 advantage.
The second period initially saw less excitement than the first, as both sides were stalemated for the first part of the period. At 9:09, Brian McNamara ’15 found Alex DeBaere ’15 streaking down the middle of the ice for a breakaway, which DeBaere buried to make the score 3-1. Bowdoin would not acquiesce, however, and kept pressuring the puck toward the men’s goal. At 13:25, this persistence came to fruition, as a flick toward the net from Bowdoin’s Joseph Lace deflected off a combination of sticks, bodies and skates and found the back of the net, much to the dismay of Eph netminder Sean Dougherty ’15. The second period ended with the Ephs boasting a 3-2 advantage.
The final period was filled with intense play from the onset, as Bowdoin looked to even the score. A penalty at 4:25 hindered these chances, as the Ephs controlled their man-advantage in the Polar Bear zone. Over a minute into the power play, Tyler Young ’17, from below the goal line, found Greg Johnson ’16 at the top of the circle. Johnson fired a shot from the point that beat Messina, making the score 4-2. The Ephs put the game out of reach just over a minute later as Kitto assisted George Hunkele ’17, who redirected the puck in front of the net to make the score 5-2.
“Beating Bowdoin was a huge moment for us,” Steinig said. “They’re a championship team, and we handily won a game against them.”
On Saturday, the men opened their season against Colby, playing to a 1-1 overtime tie.
On a four-on-four situation about 13 minutes in, Kitto hit a slapshot that was tracking toward the top corner of the net before Colby goalie Sean Parker tipped it over the goal.
The Ephs began the second period on a power play and possessed the puck with poise in the offensive zone, gaining several scoring opportunities. Parker, however, denied them all. As the period progressed, five more penalties were called, but neither team converted on the power-play opportunities.
Williams opened scoring with 5:56 left in the second, as Anderson brought the puck down the right side and into the Bowdoin zone before firing it toward the net. The puck squeaked past Parker to give the men a 1-0 lead heading into the final period.
In the final period, Colby increased its attack and looked poised to knot the score at 1-1. With 4:44 left to play, the Mules did just that as Ray Zeek fired a one-timer from the slot into the back of the net. Dougherty never saw the puck due to multiple screens in front of the net.
The five-minute overtime period did not prove fruitful for either time, and the Ephs opened their season with a 1-1 tie.
“It’s still early in the year, and there’s a lot of hockey left to be played, so making sure we’re working on the little things and building toward a four-point weekend coming up is the key,” Steinig said.
The men travel to Conn. College and Tufts this Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m., respectively, hoping to continue their strong start to the season.