Ephs win two, move into top six in rankings

Colby Cretella ’18 won NESCAC Player of the Week and scored two goals on Middlebury. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Colby Cretella ’18 won NESCAC Player of the Week and scored two goals on Middlebury. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Men’s ice hockey (17-4-1, 13-2-1 NESCAC) defeated the Middlebury Panthers 3-2 in a thrilling comeback win on Saturday night. For their fourth consecutive game, the Ephs let up the first two goals but came from behind to claim the victory. Alex Hagerty ’17 scored the game winning goal in the third period to extend the men’s winning streak to seven games. Williams has now won 12 of the past 13 games, building a strong victory streak towards postseason play.

At 18:12 of the first period, Michael Lata ’19 was called to the box for boarding. On the man advantage, Middlebury’s Travis Stephens buried the puck for his fourth goal of the season, and the men entered the first intermission down 1-0.

Middlebury gave themselves a two-goal cushion at 11:26 of the second period. Zach Haggerty shot one past goaltender Michael Pinio ’19 off of a pass from Ronald Fishman.

The Ephs came back on the power play roughly two minutes later and began their surge to recapture the momentum. The men began to increase the pressure on the Panthers’ net while also stepping up on defense, taking 14 shots on goal while only giving up five. At 13:33 of the second period, Colby Cretella ’18  got one past senior goaltender Liam Moorfield-Yee off of assists from Tyler Young ’17, marking his tenth assist, and Roberto Cellini ’19, marking his ninth.

The Ephs tied the game at 14:49 of the second period, when Joe Welch ’18 slotted the puck past Moorfield-Yee. George Hunkele ’17 and Cretella were awarded assists on the play, evening the game out at 2-2, and rounding out the scoring for the period.

The game-winner was scored by Williams at 3:10 by Alex Hagerty ’17 with his fourth goal of the season, rifling it past the goaltender. Hagerty was assisted on the play by a crisp pass from captain Zander Masucci ’16 (11th assist).

On Friday, the Ephs notched a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory over the Panthers after erasing a seemingly decisive lead with three third period goals. Cretella proved the hero, scoring the game-winner in overtime.

Middlebury got out to a 1-0 lead just past the midway mark of the first period. At 10:40, Haggerty was fed a nice pass from the blueline, getting past three Williams men in the neutral zone and creating a breakaway on Pinios, finishing with a backhander.

At 16:24 of the first, the Ephs responded to tie the game at one. Masucci stifled a Panthers two-on-one opportunity in the Eph defensive zone. C.J. Shugart ’18 then got possession in the neutral zone and fed Dan Doherty ’18 a great outlet pass that he then converted into a top shelf goal.

Middlebury recaptured the lead at 6:09 of the second period. On a three-on-two opportunity, Haggerty picked up a loose puck in the crease and slide one past Pinios. Middlebury extended its lead to two goals at 18:30 of the second period. Right as a Panther power play expired, Fishman fired one off from the point, which was deflected past Pinios on the play, bringing the game up to 3-1 for the Panthers.

The Ephs brought it back to within one at 4:51 of the third period. Hunkele fired the puck past Moorfield-Yee off of an assist from Welch. Hunkele’s seventh goal of the season brought the score to 3-2 in favor of the Panthers.

The Ephs scored the game tying goal at 8:24 of the third period. Sam Gray ’17 fired one through off of a play assisted by Welch and Cretella. At 13:53 of the third period, the Ephs scored their third consecutive goal to gain the lead for the first time in the contest off a critical finish from Frankie Mork ’17. The Panthers responded to bring the game to 4-4 on the power play.

At 1:00 into overtime, Cretella scored his sixth goal of the season, bringing the Ephs their third straight victory after coming back from a two-goal deficit.

Cretella was named NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Player of the Week for play ending Sunday. Cretella was critical to both Eph come-from-behind wins against Middlebury as he tallied a goal and an assist in each game.

In a 5-4 overtime win, Cretella assisted on the game-tying goal in the third period before scoring the game-winner in overtime.

Down 2-0 to Middlebury the next day, Cretella got the comeback going with a second-period goal and assisted on the game-tying goal of what would become a 3-2 Eph win. Williams extended its win streak to seven games.

“We battled hard and found a way to come back against a very tough Middlebury team.  We have a big weekend ahead of us and look forward to continue getting better every single day,” Masucci said.

The men will play archrival Amherst this Saturday at 3 p.m. at home.

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