Men’s hockey clinches third in NESCAC

Photo courtesy of Sports Information Zander Massucci ’16 recorded a shot on goal in the men’s 3-1 victory over Hamilton.
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Zander Massucci ’16 recorded a shot on goal in the men’s 3-1 victory over Hamilton.

Last weekend, men’s hockey (14-7-3, 10-5-3 in the NESCAC) matched up against archrival Amherst on Sunday after facing off against fellow NESCAC foe Hamilton on Saturday. These were the men’s final two games of the regular season and they needed to win both in order to move up ahead of Amherst to capture the second seed heading into the conference tournament. After cruising to a solid 3-1 victory on Saturday over the Continentals, the Jeffs overwhelmed the Ephs in Sunday’s battle for second place. Three third-period goals proved the difference as Amherst rolled to a 4-1 win.

Against Amherst, Williams did not seem to be fully in sync as the contest began and was called for a careless too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty just over one minute into the game. Stalwart netminder Sean Dougherty ’15 bailed the men out as the penalty elapsed with no consequences. As the period wore on, the referees kept their whistles close, overzealously trying to avoid chippyness in the rivalry matchup by calling a total of four penalties in the first frame. Despite many opportunities on the power play for both teams, stout goaltending from both ends kept the game scoreless heading into the locker room.

In the second period, the men struck first, notching the first tally of the game at the 18:55 mark as Frankie Mork ’17 willed a no-angle shot from just above the goal line past Amherst’s Dave Cunningham with assists credited to co-captain Nick Anderson ’14 and Tyler Young ’17. Amherst answered minutes later when Mike Cashman walked in cleanly off of a face-off win and slipped the puck past Dougherty. Following the tallies, three more penalties were called in the second period, and both teams saw scoring opportunities wasted as the penalty kill units for both squads thwarted the man advantages with little problem. At the second intermission, the score was knotted at one goal apiece.

Both teams came out gunning to start the period with several scoring opportunities arising out of a quick pace of play. At the halfway mark, however, Amherst took a 2-1 lead off of an offensive zone face-off win, a play very similar to its first goal. With the men trying to mount a comeback, they found themselves once again down a skater with 4:09 remaining in regulation time. This time, the Jeffs capitalized on the power play, extending their lead to two goals with under four minutes to play. With two minutes to play, the Ephs desperately needed an offensive advantage and pulled Dougherty to get an extra skater on the ice. This move proved fruitless as Amherst tacked on an empty net goal to make the final tally 4-1.

On Saturday, the first period against Hamilton began with a flurry of chances for both squads in what seemed sure to be a tight contest. Dougherty and Continental netminder Joe Quattrocchi remained solid between the pipes, however, and the first frame ended with a 0-0 score.

The second period proved to be the decisive one as the Ephs netted three unanswered goals to take a commanding lead. The first score came when James McNamara ’17 threw a shot at the net from just beneath the blue line and outside of the left hash marks.  Quattrocchi looked to be screened on the play as the puck found its way through traffic and into the net. The second goal came from leading scorer Craig Kitto ’16. Kitto entered the Hamilton zone with speed and went straight towards the net, slipping a wrist shot past Quattrocchi about halfway through the frame to extend the Williams lead to two goals. With the lead, the men were able to better control the pace of play. After a shot by Zander Masucci ’16 missed wide, the men regrouped and netted the third goal, courtesy of Alex DeBaere ’15 with 3:13 to play. The goal came after a series of pretty passes from linemates Matt Doyle ’14 and Matt Werner ’16 found DeBaere wide open in the high slot. The period ended with the Ephs up 3-0.

The final period began with several quality chances for the Continentals, including a goal that was waved off due to an offsides infraction and two shots that rang off of the post. As time whittled down, Hamilton pulled its goalie and snuck the puck past Dougherty on the ensuing 6-on-5 man advantage with just over one minute to play in the game. The game would end with the Ephs holding a 3-1 victory.

“We knew Hamilton was a team fighting for a playoff spot so we played desperately and took it to them,” co-captain Paul Steinig ’14 said.

The Ephs finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the conference. This weekend, the men will begin their quest for their first ever NESCAC crown against No. 6 Colby on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Lansing Chapman Rink.