HAMILTON, NY -- The Williams Ephs (5-2-0, 4-2-0 NESCAC) were defeated by the Hamilton Continentals (5-2-1, 2-2-1 NESCAC) 3-2 this evening at the Russell Sage Rink. While netminder Michael Pinios stopped 32 shots, ultimately Continental senior Brandon Willett's slapshot in the third period proved to be the game decider.
In net for the Ephs was junior Michael Pinios. Pinios came into this contest with a .934 save percentage, and made 32 saves on the night. In net for the Continentals was senior Evan Buitenhuis, who came into the game with a similar .935 save percentage, and made 20 saves on the night.
When these two teams faced each other last season, there was one tie and one victory for the Continentals.
The Ephs got off to a quick start in the game, the first goal coming under two minutes into the first period. At 1:44, senior David Italiano cashed in his fourth goal of the season on a play assisted by junior Roberto Cellini (fourth assist) and freshman Nick Van Belle (first assist). This brought the score to an early 1-0.
The Continentals tied things up a couple minutes later, when at 4:12, junior Ian Nichols (first goal) got one past Pinios. Nichols was assisted on the play by sophomore Stephen Cochrane (second assist), bringing the score to 1-1.
Williams recaptured the lead again near the period's close. At 19:15, junior Connor Meike earned his first goal of the season, firing one past Buitenhuis. Meike was assisted on the play by Italiano (third assist) and freshman Tyler Scott (first assist of Eph career). This brought the score to 2-1 heading into the locker rooms after the first 20 minutes of play.
Just :11 seconds into the second period of play, Hamilton was able to even the score once again. Continental leading scorer, junior Rory Gagnon, made quick work of finding the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season. Gagnon was assisted by classmate Jason Brochu (fifth assist).
"We have to continue to work on our details," coach Monti stated. "We, as a group, believe details are where games are won and lost, and focusing on them will make us better."
The Ephs were on the defensive for much of the second period, after a string of penalties were called against the squad. However, Williams was able to fend off this offensive attack by Hamilton's power play units.
After two periods of play, shots were 29-13 heavily in favor of the Continentals.
At 9:20 of the third period, Hamilton's Brandon Willett (third goal) fired an accurate slapshot from the top of the zone, over Pinios's left shoulder. Willett was unassisted on this game-winning goal. The game concluded with a score of 3-2 for the Continentals.
"One day at a time," said coach Monti. "We can't think too far ahead, we just have to think about the next practice, the next drill, and the next rep."
Shot count totals were 35-22 for Hamilton, with Williams coming in much lower than their 29.8 shots per game average.
The Continentals next face Skidmore, on Saturday December 30th on the road, puck drop at 4:00 PM. Williams next faces U-Mass Boston on December 29th on the road, puck drop at 1:00 PM.
"This weekend, we learned a lot about ourselves," said Monti. "We played two very tough opponents, and while we played well, we realize we have some work to do on the details."