Last Saturday, men’s hockey (13-6-3, 9-4-3 in the NESCAC) suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at Middlebury in the closing seconds of overtime following its 1-1 tie against Middlebury at home on Friday night. Though the Ephs came into the home-and-home series ranked three spots higher than the Panthers in the crowded NESCAC standings, the scores in both weekend games were neck-and-neck.
Saturday’s game started off well for Williams as the men were first to mark the scoreboard, capitalizing on a power play with just under five minutes in the first period. Greg Johnson ’16 and assistant captain David Jarrett ’15 assisted co-captain Paul Steinig ’14 for the first goal of the game, while goalkeeper Sean Dougherty ’15 protected the net from a persistent Panther offense that outshot the Ephs throughout the period.
Middlebury maintained its lead in puck possession in the second period, but this time its pressure was reflected in the scoreboard. The Panthers took advantage of the Ephs, who were playing two men down when assistant captain Tucker Dayton ’14 and co-captain Nick Anderson ’14 were called for holding and interference penalties, respectively. Middlebury slipped one past Dougherty and into the net on the ensuing five-on-three advantage, knotting the game at one apiece.
For much of the third period, the Panthers continued to outshoot the Ephs, but the score remained tied at one at the end of regulation time with much credit going to Dougherty’s unyielding presence between the pipes.
In overtime, the two teams were even at one shot each until Middlebury’s Louis Belisle scored with just 40 seconds left in the extra frame to notch a victory for his team. Dougherty
turned aside a daunting 42 of 44 shots on the evening.
Friday night’s game was also extremely evenly matched. The first period was scoreless, but the Ephs made valiant efforts throughout. Zander Masucci ’16 narrowly missed a scoring opportunity, hitting the crossbar, while Johnson rifled a shot that was saved by the Panther netminder.
The second period was one of perpetual suspense for Williams due to penalties that dotted the frame. The Ephs, however, made it through the Panther’s first and second power plays – the latter of which featured the Ephs playing down two men. George Hunkele ’17 added to the feeling of anticipation in the air with his shot out of a broken play that, like Masucci’s, rung off the iron of the crossbar. In the final few seconds of the period, a brawl broke out between Steinig and Middlebury’s Max Greenwald, resulting in roughing calls for each.
The ensuing four-on-four to open the third period proved to be advantageous for the Panthers, who seized on the opportunity to put one past Dougherty, taking the lead at the 18:42 mark of the final frame. The Ephs bounced back quickly, however, as Hunkele slammed a rebound into the back of the net just minutes later on a power-play opportunity. Thanks especially to Dougherty, the time expired with the game knotted at 1-1, and the game proceeded to overtime.
Both teams failed to score in the bonus frame as the final score left the teams tied at one goal apiece.
“Middlebury was a tough opponent. We had two toughly fought games and we did not end up on the right side of the scoreboard. I thought our team battled hard, but just couldn’t generate the offense we needed,” Anderson said.
The men are now preparing for their final weekend of the regular season, playing home games against Hamilton on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Amherst on Sunday at 3 p.m.