Men’s hockey strives for NESCAC tournament

Men’s hockey looks to build upon its 15-8-3 overall record last season as it returns many contributors from a year ago, bringing with them experience and high expectations. Last season, the Ephs impressed with a NESCAC record of 10-5-3 but fell to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals 3-1.

The Ephs are returning 19 players from last season, including 14 players that played in at least 24 of the 26 games. With all its defensemen and its starting goalie returning from a season ago, Williams will rely upon a defensive unit that ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense last year.

Between the pipes, goaltender Sean Dougherty ’15 has been a standout player during his Williams career thus far. Dougherty started 24 of 26 games last season and garnered an overall save percentage of .938, good for fourth in the nation, while his goals against average was a stellar 1.65 overall. In addition, his 1479:25 total minutes played ranked eighth nationally. He was also a First-Team All-NESCAC honoree.

In front of Dougherty will be an experienced and talented core of defensemen led by Brian McNamara ’15, David Jarrett ’15, Greg Johnson ’16, Zander Masucci ’16, Frankie Mork ’17 and James McNamara ’17.

Last season the group led the NESCAC in scoring defense, allowing a meager 1.83 goals per game. In addition to holding down the defensive zone, Williams got offensive contributions from the blue line crew. Mork posted an impressive debut campaign in which he led Eph defensemen with seven goals and eight assists. Johnson and Jarrett were the other two Eph defensemen who had double-digit point totals last season with 10 apiece.

On offense, the Ephs are returning three of their top six scorers, including their top two scorers Craig Kitto ’15 and George Hunkele ’17. Both players recorded 11 goals in 24 and 26 games played, respectively. Kitto and Hunkele also recorded an impressive 21 points each last season, leading the Ephs.

In addition to Kitto and Hunkele, the men also return standout players Alex DeBaere ’15, Matt Werner ’16, Tyler Young ’17 and Sam Gray ’17. Last year, Young had five goals and 15 points in his initial collegiate season. This unit graduated key contributors from last season in Nick Anderson ’14 (16 points), Paul Steinig ’14 (12 points) and Matt Doyle ’14 (11 points), presenting plenty of opportunities for players to step up and contribute offensively this season.

“We are very excited about the upcoming season,” Brian McNamara said. “We will continue to rely on strong team defense but I think, with some of the first-year forwards, our team will be very balanced. The season is going to be a process, but our goal is to be in a position to be successful come March.”

The conference once again is expected to be highly competitive, with no team being an unworthy opponent. In the first two weeks the Ephs will be tested with four consecutive conference matches, beginning with the first two games away in Maine this weekend. On Saturday, the men will open the season at Colby at 7 p.m. before visiting Bowdoin on Sunday for a 3 p.m. contest.