WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams Ephs (8-5-2, 5-2-2 NESCAC) defeated the Bowdoin Polar Bears (7-9-0, 4-7-0 NESCAC) 5-4 tonight in the Lansing Chapman Rink. The Ephs scored two goals right away, but the Polar Bears fought back all game, ultimately getting four goals of their own.
Coming into this match, Williams sported a 7-5-2 overall record, and they were 4-2-2 in the NESCAC, while Bowdoin came in with a 7-8-0 overall record, and a 4-6-0 conference record.
The Ephs came into this conference match ranked third in the NESCAC, while the Polar Bears rested at eighth in the conference.
Williams faced Bowdoin in their season opener on the road, where they came away with a 4-3 victory.
In net for the Ephs tonight was junior Stephen Morrissey, Morrissey making his fifth consecutive start for the Williams squad. This season Morrissey sports an impressive .967 save percentage.
Williams head coach Bill Kangas had complimentary things to say about Morrissey's play tonight: "He did a solid job tonight; he has earned the right to play. The last few games he has played very well. There were a few plays today where we needed saves and he made those saves, especially as the game went on."
"We don't see his solid play reflected in the four goals we gave up in this game, but there were several plays that he where he made big saves to calm things down for us. We needed him tonight, it was a testament to him to stay with it. You can't lose your edge and even when we had the lead he stayed with it, he competed down the stretch."
Making his start in the opposing crease was junior Peter Cronin, who came into this match with a .899 save percentage.
The Ephs got on the board early in the match, at just :35 into the first. Junior David Italiano found himself with the puck in the lower right circle, where he fired off a wrist shot from a tough angle to get one past Cronin. This goal marked Italiano's eighth of the year. Italiano was assisted on the play by senior Tyler Young (sixth assist).
Williams secured a two goal cushion just over a minute later, after Bowdoin defensemen had trouble controlling the puck in the neutral zone, which lead junior Joe Welch to have a breakaway opportunity, on which Welch converted with a backhander at 1:51 of the first. This was Welch's first goal of the year, and he was unassisted on the play, bringing the score to 2-0.
The Polar Bears responded to bring the game back to within one at 9:17 of the first, bringing the score to 2-1. Bowdoin freshman Christian Capello (fourth goal) received a cross pass from classmate Ronnie Lestan (fourth assist) on a three-on-two play. Capello fired one high past Morrissey's stick side, getting his team on the board.
Italiano scored his second goal of the game at 10:58 of the first. Sophomore Roberto Cellini (eighth assist) fired one from the lower left circle, which was saved by Cronin, but the rebound left the puck open in front of the net. Italiano (ninth goal) was able to get one through the five hole to restore the squad's two goal lead. Tyler Young was also awarded an assist on the play, this marking his second point on the game, and seventh assist on the season.
At 16:34 of the first period, Bowdoin's freshman Thomas Dunleavy was called to the box for slashing, giving Williams a power play opportunity.
On a unique play at 18:02 on the man advantage, David Italiano, on the left wing, just missed on a shot that hit the crossbar. The shot's deflection ricocheted just so, so that senior James McNamara was able to fire off a one timer, which also hit the crossbar, this one finding the back of the net, though. This marked McNamara's first goal of the season, and Italiano's 11th assist and third point of the game.
Bowdoin made a goaltending change heading into the second period, with sophomore Nathan Colannino relieving Cronin. This marked Colannino's third game of the season, and he came into this match with a .86 save percentage.
Bowdoin quickly went on the offensive in the second period. Their first goal of the second came at just :48, when the Polar Bears were given a two-on-one opportunity. Junior Matthew Lison shot one from the right side, and classmate Spencer Antunez was positioned well to pick up the rebound in front of the net, and he subsequently put one past Morrissey to bring the game to 4-2. This was Antunez's third goal of the season, and Lison's 12th assist.
The Polar Bears scored their second goal of the period at 5:17, bringing the game to within one. Williams had control of the puck in their own zone, however in trying to make a pass by banking the puck off of the boards, the Ephs gave away possession, the puck ending up right on on the stick of Bowdoin senior Matt Sullivan, who was able to maneuver the puck into the center of the zone and fire off a successful backhander. This was Sullivan's fourth goal of the year, and he was assisted on the play by Antunez (seventh assist). This brought the score to 4-3 with more than half the game remaining.
For the remainder of the period, the Ephs kept Bowdoin on their heels, the majority of the time remaining was spent in the Williams offensive zone, whether on the power play or not.
"We only had one power play goal, but we had many chances on the power play where our puck movement was solid," noted Kangas. "We had some good looks, we had some opportunities late in the second period to get a couple goals, but we didn't. We were pretty good about getting through that period, and I thought we had a good third period."
As a result of a penalty called against each team near the end of the second period, Bowdoin and Williams began the third period with around one minute on the 4-4. After two periods, the Ephs had outshot the Polar Bears 30-15.
At 5:23 of the third period, the Ephs recaptured a two goal lead on an even strength play. Senior Frankie Mork fired one off from the left point, and his classmate Alex Hagerty (fourth goal) was able to deflect the puck. Colannino got a piece of the shot, but his butterfly position was unable to stop the puck completely, the puck trickled through the five hole to bring the game to 5-3 for the Ephs. This was Mork's ninth assist on the year.
Bowdoin came right back to bring it within one yet again at 16:16 of the third period. Bowdoin's Thomas Dunleavy (ninth goal) fired off a shot from a bad angle, at the bottom of the right circle, and was able to find a gap to get through Morrissey. Dunleavy was assisted on the play by seniors Mitch Barrington (third assist) and Kendall Culbertson (fifth assist). This brought the game to its final score of 5-4.
Shot count totals were 37-27 in favor of the Ephs.
"When you give up four goals, you have to think of ways to give up fewer," reflected Kangas. "We need to be tighter defensively in some areas, but I think the guys understand that. We did some good things and obviously we have a few things to work on for tomorrow, where we are playing a good team, an older team, that we need to be ready for."
Bowdoin next faces Middlebury on the road tomorrow at 3:00 PM. Williams faces off against Colby tomorrow at the Lansing Chapman Rink at 3:00 PM.