Ephs set to host NESCAC Championship semifinals/final
2011 NESCAC Tournament
Men's Ice Hockey
Semifinals and Championship
Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6
Saturday's Semifinals Schedule
No. 2 Williams 3, No. 8 Wesleyan 2, OT
Bowdoin 3, Colby 1
Bowdoin 5, Williams 2
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- No. 2 Williams College (16-7-3) earned the right to host this weekend's NESCAC Tournament semifinals and finals by defeating Trinity College, 4-3, in the quarterfinals. The Ephs are the highest remaining seeded team.
Games times are 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets will be on sale Thursday and Friday in the Lasell Gym lobby. Thursday tickets will be sold from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Friday ticket sales will run from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Fans wishing to purchase tickets in the Lasell Gym lobby should use the Spring Street entrance.
Tickets will go on sale Saturday at Lansing Chapman Rink at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Ticket Prices: Adults: $5; Students: $2.
All three games this weekend will be webcast. Click HERE to watch.
Williams College Ephs (15-7-3) vs. Wesleyan University Cardinals (10-11-3)
Williams (15-7-3, 11-6-2 NESCAC) raced out to an impressive start to the year, going 7-0-1 to start the season and holding first place in the league at the semester break.
Unfortunately, the good fortune of the holiday season did not carry over into January for the Ephs as they went 3-5-1 in the first month of the year, losing at Bowdoin (3-2) and Colby (6-3) during that stretch and falling from the top spot.
The Ephs managed to right the ship at a key point in the season, posting a 4-2-1 record over the final three weeks to match their highest finish in the conference standings with a second-place showing.
Through 25 games, Williams is scoring on average 3.60 goals per game, third among conference squads, yet Ephs' greatest strength might be their defense. Williams is first in the NESCAC in scoring defense, allowing 2.40 goals per game thanks to the sound play of junior netminder Ryan Purdy (La Jolla, Calif.). Playing nearly every minute of every game, Purdy owns a league-leading 2.15 goals against average and a .925 save percentage with three shutouts.
On offense, senior leadership has been key for the Ephs thanks to the efforts of forwards Ben Contini (Toronto, Ontario) and Matt Masucci (Winthrop, Mass.). Contini sits atop the Williams stat sheet with 31 points (9-22-31) while Masucci's 13 goals currently pace the team. The trio, along with their teammates, hope to put the Ephs in Sunday's title game for the first time since 2000.
For Wesleyan (10-11-3, 8-10-1 NESCAC), no challenge may seem too great after the Cardinals earned their first NESCAC tournament victory on Saturday, over the top-seeded team no less. Down 1-0 to the Continentals just 1:23 into the game, the Cardinals tied the contest midway through the first before scoring twice in the second for a 3-1 lead after two. Hamilton made it a 3-2 game in the third, however Wesleyan didn't fold and responded with two more goals in a 5-2 empty-net final.
The Cardinals will look to add another chapter to their postseason story when they meet their Little Three rivals for the first time in playoff history on Saturday. Although Wesleyan is 4-37-6 all-time against Williams, including a 3-2 overtime setback in Williamstown on Jan. 14, the Cardinals have had recent success against the Ephs with two wins coming in the past five years.
This season, the Cardinals may have come up short in 11 of their 24 outings but they have not gone quietly, as eight of the 11 losses were by two goals or less. In net, sophomores Matt Hadge (Canton, Mass.) and Glenn Stowell (Hadley, Mass.) have platooned this season, however Hadge has performed well as of late with four wins in his last five starts. Hadge (6-4-1) is third in the NESCAC in save percentage at .923 and fifth in goals against average at 2.52.
The future looks bright for the Cardinals with freshmen forwards Nik Tasiopoulos (Norwell, Mass.) and Keith Buehler (Skaneateles, N.Y.) heading up the scoring this season. Tasiopoulos has amassed 23 points on 12 goals and 11 assists, while Buehler has recorded 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists.
Williams and Wesleyan are both 1-2 against the tournament field, with the Ephs win coming at the expense of the Cardinals with losses to Bowdoin and Colby. Wesleyan defeated Bowdoin on the road but fell to Williams and Colby.
Bowdoin Polar Bears (16-7-1) vs. Colby College Mules (12-10-2)
A year after finishing atop the conference standings, Bowdoin (16-7-1, 11-7-1 NESCAC) looked primed for a repeat performance this season. However, a five-game winless streak in the last half of the regular season dropped the Polar Bears from first to fifth. Bowdoin picked up a bit of momentum heading into the playoffs with a pair of road wins before battling past Amherst in the quarterfinals.
The Polar Bears have been a formidable foe for teams this season, boasting an offense which averages 4.42 goals per game (1st NESCAC), a penalty kill rate of .872 percent (1st), and a power play unit that is tops in the nation with a .336 conversion rate.
The biggest question for Bowdoin this weekend will be the strength of its goaltending, as the Polar Bears are last among the four semifinal squads and eighth overall in the conference, allowing on average 3.08 goals per game.
Hoping to bring back to Brunswick the program's first NESCAC crown are the trio of seniors Kyle Shearer-Hardy (Montreal, Quebec) and Jeff Fanning (Billerica, Mass.) and sophomore Daniel Weiniger (Warren, N.J.). Fanning and Weiniger are the top two goal scorers in the NESCAC at the moment, with Fanning holding a 19-to-18 edge over his sophomore counterpart. Weiniger not only leads his team with 39 points, he is also first in the conference in power-play points with 23 (9-14-23).
Shearer-Hardy, an All-NESCAC First Team selection in 2010, is a top candidate for the league's Player of the Year honor, as he is second among the Polar Bears in scoring with nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points.
Standing between the Polar Bears and their first NESCAC crown is their oldest rival and arguably the hottest team in the league at the moment, Colby (12-10-2, 10-7-2 NESCAC).
The Mules started off the 2010-11 campaign 1-5-1 in league play and 3-8-1 overall. Instead of folding, Colby turned things around and finished an impressive 9-2-1 down the stretch before dispatching Middlebury this past Saturday to reach the semifinals for the first time in three years.
The Polar Bears hold the advantage in the storied rivalry which spans 195 meetings, going 101-86-8 against the Mules following back-to-back one-goal victories this season. After downing Colby by a 3-2 score on Dec. 10, Bowdoin overcame a 5-1 deficit the next night en route to a 6-5 win.
Last winter the two teams met in the NESCAC playoffs for the first time ever and it proved to be another classic, as the Polar Bears edged their northern rivals in overtime, 2-1. Hoping to lead Colby past Bowdoin and into the conference championship for the first time are seniors Billy Crinnion (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Cody McKinney (Weston, Fla.). Sixteen of Crinnion's 23 points have come over the Mules' last 13 games, scoring three goals and assisting on 13 others. McKinney has improved as the season has progressed, posting a .937 save percentage during Colby's run with a 9-1-1 record in 12 appearances.
Bowdoin is 3-1 against the tournament field with two wins over Colby and one over Williams and a loss to Wesleyan. Colby is 2-2, having lost twice to the Polar Bears but defeating Wesleyan and Williams.