Men’s ice hockey (11-4-1, 8-2-0 NESCAC) shook off a sluggish start on Saturday in Bowdoin’s Watson Arena and proceeded to score the first five goals of the game to collect a 5-1 win over the Bowdoin Polar Bears.
The Ephs’ offense took a while to kick into gear, as the Ephs did not register a shot on goal until 13:13 of the first period, and that shot came from the blue line. The Ephs did open the scoring in the contest, however, when Will Somers ’20 won a faceoff to the left of Bowdoin goalie Andy Zafonte and the puck shot directly to the blue line, where Jack McCool ’21 uncorked a slapshot on goal that was tipped home by Jack Forrest ’22 at 7:41. Somers and McCool were credited with assists on the score.
The Ephs went on the power play at 11:13 when Bowdoin’s Bobby Pearl was sent to the penalty box for slashing. The Ephs fired three shots on Zafonte, but the Polar Bears killed off the penalty. Bowdoin’s Pat Geary tested Eph netminder Evan Ruschil ’23 on a short-handed attempt in close when he got a step on the Eph defense. Ruschil was forced to his knees to make the stop and then quickly had to cover the puck on the ice in front of him.
Bobby Beniers ’21 upped the Eph lead to two, 2-0, when he tipped in a shot off the stick of Julian Detmer ’21, who notched an assist on the goal that came at 14:08.
Bowdoin outshot the Ephs 15 to 8 in the first 20 minutes, but Ruschil turned aside every Polar Bear attempt, and Bowdoin’s Andy Zafonte denied only six of eight Eph shots as the Ephs took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Ephs came out with high energy to start the second period, and at 3:15, Beniers set up Detmer for a quick goal, putting the Ephs up 3-0. Bowdoin was soon on a power play when Wyatt Glover ’20 was called for holding at 5:14, but the Ephs were able to kill off the penalty to keep their three-goal margin.
The Ephs gained a 4-0 lead when Max Fuld ’20 launched a shot that bounced off Zafonte’s right pad to Forrest, who slapped the puck past Zafonte at 10:22.
With just under a minute left in the period, Forrest chased a Bowdoin defender who tried to escape around the net to the right of Zafonte. Just as the players approached the goal line, Forrest took the puck and whipped around to his left, firing a shot just inside the post to the right of Zafonte and into the back of the net, giving the Ephs a 5-0 lead.
After 40 minutes of play, the Ephs were on top 5-0, and their rookie goaltender Evan Ruschil had stopped all 29 Bowdoin shots while Bowdoin’s Andy Zafonte had only stopped 12 of the Ephs’ 17 shots.
Bowdoin replaced Andy Zafonte in goal in the third period with Kyle St. Denis.
At 7:30, Mac Carso ’23 came in alone on St. Denis, but St. Denis was up to the task and turned aside Carso’s attempt from in close aside to keep the score 5-0.
At 19:18 Ethan Kimball came down the right side of the rink towards Ruschil’s left side, went over the blue line, pulled the puck under a defender and slipped it past Ruschil to get Bowdoin on the scoreboard. However, it was too little, too late for a Bowdoin comeback, as the Ephs prevailed 5-1.
For the second time this season, the Ephs posted a 5-1 win over Bowdoin, and Ruschil was in goal for both Eph wins. In the first matchup in November, Ruschil’s first collegiate start, he registered 40 saves and allowed one goal, and this afternoon he stopped 36 of 37 Bowdoin shots.
Bowdoin’s Zafonte stopped 12 of the Ephs’ 17 shots in 40 minutes and allowed five goals. Zafonte’s replacement, St. Denis, made 12 stops in the final period and did not allow a goal.
“The guys worked hard all day,” Eph head coach Bill Kangas said. “There are no easy games in [the] NESCAC. I was proud of our seniors, who showed great leadership when we started off slow, reminding the guys to stay with our plan and just compete.”
With Saturday’s win, the Ephs have climbed over Trinity into first place in the NESCAC.
The men will return to action when they host Connecticut College on Friday at 7 p.m. and Tufts on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Lansing Chapman Rink.