Men’s hockey (15-8-2, 10-7-1 in the NESCAC) defeated Bowdoin 4-3 in the NESCAC Championship quarterfinals last weekend at the Lansing Chapman Rink. The Ephs now progress to the semi-finals in the NESCAC tournament, to take place this weekend.
The first time these two teams faced each other was on Nov. 16, when the result was a 3-3 tie in Brunswick, Maine. The two teams next faced one another on Jan. 24, and the Ephs came away with decisive 5-2 victory.
Goaltender Sean Dougherty ’15 started in net for the Ephs while Peter Cronin started for the Polar Bears. While Cronin and Dougherty certainly differ in playing experience, both netminders had an overall save percentage of .911.
The Ephs got off to a quick start, getting on the board in just 33 seconds and giving Williams the early 1-0 lead. On the opening shift after the puck drop, Colby Cretella ’18 forced a shot past Cronin on the backhand side. Cretella was assisted on the play by Alex DeBaere ’15.
The Ephs were given the first power play opportunity of the game at 17:03, when Bowdoin’s Matthew Lison was called for tripping. The Ephs failed to capitalize on the power play, and the first period ended with the Ephs holding a 1-0 lead. The shot count was in Williams’ favor 16-10.
At 0:26 into the second period, tri-captain Zander Masucci ’16 was called to the penalty box for cross checking. Just 30 seconds later at 0:56, Greg Johnson ’16 was also called to the box for tripping, giving the Polar Bears 90 seconds with a two-man advantage. However. Williams effectively killed these two penalties.
Williams made the game 2-0 at 5:56 into the period when David Italiano ’18 fired a shot past Cronin off a pass from Frankie Mork ’17. Bowdoin responded and made the game 2-1 at 15:57 into the second period, and neither team added another goal before the end of the period.
At 11:40 into the third period, DeBaere used his speed to get a breakaway opportunity. DeBaere was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped on the play and faked his forehand and went backhand on Cronin, slipping the puck through the five hole. DeBaere’s efforts extended his team’s lead to two goals.
Just 39 seconds later, Bowdoin’s Connor Quinn brought the game back to within one goal. Quinn fired a shot past Dougherty at 12:19 into the final period of play, bringing the game’s score to 3-2. Quinn was assisted on the play by seniors Tim Coffey and John McGinnis.
Bowdoin tied the game at 18:23, after Brendan Conroy fired a wrist shot through traffic from the right wing. This goal made the game 3-3, sending the match into sudden death overtime.
However, Williams kept up the momentum and continued to push the puck towards the offensive end. At 9:26 into the overtime, Craig Kitto ’15 scored his third game-winning goal of the year, bringing the final score of 4-3. Kitto defeated his defender and fired a shot over Cronin’s right shoulder. He was assisted by Sam Gray ’17.
“We had to be resilient in a game like this,” said Head Coach Bill Kangas. “We went up early and had to come back after giving up the lead… I’m really happy for the guys, we get to play next weekend in the NESCAC final fours so it should be a lot of fun.”
Bowdoin led in shots, taking 47 to Williams’ 39.
With this overtime goal, Williams eliminated Bowdoin from the NESCAC Championships. The men will advance to the semifinals next weekend, playing Conn. College in Amherst, Mass. The game will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m.