Offense powers men’s hockey into semifinals

Last Saturday, men’s hockey (15-7-3, 10-5-3 in the NESCAC) downed Colby 7-3 to advance to the NESCAC semifinals this weekend, hosted by Trinity. The Ephs spread the wealth as seven different players recorded a tally en route to their biggest offensive output of the season.

The Mules netted the first goal of the game on a power play at the 15:46 mark of the first period. Eph goalie Sean Dougherty ’15 had little chance at the puck with many bodies in front of the net screening his view. Minutes later, the men responded as Williams’ third line, consisting of Matt Werner ’16, Matt Doyle ’14 and Alex DeBaere ’15 entered the Colby zone with speed and skillfully maneuvered the puck before DeBaere fired a shot on goal. Deflected by Mule netminder Sam Parker, Werner followed DeBaere’s shot to the net and slammed the rebound home to tie the game.  With about eight minutes to play in the period, the Ephs found themselves on a power play and capitalized on the extra-man opportunity. Crisp puck movement from the trio of Tyler Young ’17, George Hunkele ’17 and Frankie Mork ’17 found Hunkele wide open back-door for a beautiful goal to make the score 2-1. The period ended with several rushes for both teams but the score remained in the Ephs’ favor.

The second period of action began where the first left off, with intense, quick-transition hockey with many shots and odd-man rushes for both teams. Williams struck first just over one minute into the period when Mork smashed a shot off Parker and into the back of the net from a low angle to make the score 3-1. Colby responded, however, with 14:10 to play in the period when an unmarked man in front of the net had an easy one-time goal from a pass behind the cage. Head Coach Bill Kangas then used a timeout to regroup his team and slow down the pace of play. Kangas’ decision proved shrewd as the Ephs netted the next two goals of the game to make the score 5-2 before the period’s end. Co-captain Nick Anderson ’14 scored the important fourth goal on a loose rebound in the low slot, assisted by Brian McNamara ’15 and Craig Kitto ’16. The fifth goal was tallied by fellow co-captain Paul Steinig ’14 after an incredible pass from goalie Dougherty found Sam Gray ’17 streaking up the right wing. Gray found Steinig for an easy goal, earning Dougherty a rare assist.

The Mules did not go away in the third period and scored just 1:48 into the final frame to decrease their deficit to a more manageable two goals. Up 5-3, the men turned up the pressure and again responded to the Colby goal with two of their own before the contest came to a close. Young added to his point total with a goal, assisted by Steinig. Assistant captain Tucker Dayton ’14 notched the final goal of the game while the Ephs were shorthanded, racing out to collect a deflected puck in the neutral zone before firing the puck past Parker.  When the game came to a close, the Ephs walked away with a 7-3 victory over the Mules.

Colby managed 50 shots in the contest with stalwart Dougherty recording 47 saves, while Williams put 43 pucks on net with Parker stopping 36 of those shots.

Seven different Ephs scored the seven goals and 14 different players recorded a point in this offensive explosion.

“We stuck to our game plan and ended with some good results,” said Anderson. “The game against Colby I really felt like we were able to capitalize on our chances and we are definitely loooking forward to this weekend.”

The men travel to Trinity this weekend to face Amherst on Saturday in the NESCAC semifinals. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Trinity-Bowdoin matchup in the championship game on Sunday.