BRUNSWICK, ME -- Williams College freshmen Colby Cretella and David Italiano combined for the three goals scored for the Ephs (1-0-1) this afternoon in their contest against Bowdoin (1-0-1), who managed to score with under a minute to go in regulation to force the game into overtime and ultimately decide the match at 3-3.
The first period was largely defined by back and forth play between the two teams, starting with a fast tempo right out of the gate. No penalties were called and no goals were scored in the first twenty minutes, however there were many notable opportunities on both sides.
The first came at 6:32, when senior Brian McNamara fired a slapshot off of a deflected shot from freshman C.J. Shugart. Bowdoin freshman goaltender Peter Cronin made an impressive glove save on the play in this debut performance for the Polar Bears, marking one of his nine saves in the first period.
Two minutes later, following an icing call on the Ephs, Danny Palumbo for the Polar Bears fired a wrist shot as senior goaltender Sean Dougherty was down, but Dougherty managed to make a strong right pad save. Shortly thereafter, John McGinnis for Bowdoin was left undefended low down in the zone, but yet again Dougherty made a stellar high glove save.
For a short time in the period, Bowdoin head coach Terry Meagher experimented with playing three defensemen per shift. The shots were ten to nine in favor of the Polar Bears, as play was very evenly matched in the first period, with both teams' defenses proving effective.
Play stepped up in the second period, where four goals were scored, two for each side, and one penalty was drawn against Bowdoin.
The first goal came just :37 seconds into the period off of the first shot taken. Mitch Barrington for Bowdoin scored his first of the season, firing a laser top shelf past Dougherty who was screened on the play. Barrington's shot came from a rebound caused by a shot from Ryan Collier who earned the assist. The Polar Bears were 9-3-1 when they scored the first goal of the game last year.
At 3:17, Chris Fenwick for Bowdoin responded to a tie up with his opponent, and went to the box for roughing. However, Bowdoin was aggressive on the penalty kill, allowing no shots on goal for the entirety of the penalty. Last year the Polar Bears scored eight short handed goals, and their special teams unit looked sharp during the only penalty of the second period.
A few minutes later, freshman Colby Cretella went bar down while defended in the offensive zone to make the game all tied up at 6:53, with assists awarded to sophomore Greg Zaffino and C.J. Shugart. This marked Cretella's first goal as an Eph, sporting an impressive top shelf shot that Bowdoin's Cronin couldn't stop.
The Ephs went on the board again at 9:09, when Brian McNamara shot one from outside, and freshman David Italiano tipped in the puck as it popped up out of Cronin's glove. McNamara and freshman Dan Doherty earned the assists on the play. This also marked Italiano's first career goal as an Eph, making the game 2-1.
Bowdoin quickly responded to make the game 2-2 at 11:49, with a redirect coming from Mitch Barrington to allow John McGinnis of the Polar Bears to put one past Dougherty.
After two periods, shots on goal were in favor of the Polar Bears 26-18.
The third period started off with not too much decisive possession on either side. Colby Cretella scored his second of the night at 7:41. Goaltender Cronin made the first save off of the shot fired by freshman C.J. Shugart, but couldn't manage to get across the crease to get to the rebound in time. This marked Shugart's second assist of the night.
Of the freshmen contributions tonight and this weekend, head coach Bill Kangas said: "Our first year players were able to provide our team with great opportunities and timely goals. The Cretella, Stickel, and Shugart trio was very strong tonight. For success from our younger guys to be coming this early in the season means only good things for us going forward."
The majority of the remaining third period was back and forth play, with no one team showing dominance over the other. Cronin for the Polar Bears was quick across the crease to make a superb save to stop a two-on-one effort by the Ephs three-quarters of the way through the period.
With 1:18 left in the game and Bowdoin down by one, Cronin was pulled in order to allow the Polar Bears to have the man advantage in their offensive zone the remainder of the game.
Ryan Collier made an impressive play to keep the puck in the zone with just under a minute to go, diving and playing the puck with his stick while laid out on the ice to get it to John McGinnis, who brought it around the net and shot one from the outside, allowing for Connor Quinn of Bowdoin to tip it in at 19:08 to tie the game and force overtime play.
Overtime was once again riddled with back and forth even play on both sides. Ephs' goaltender Dougherty buried a puck right in front of the crease after Bowdoin's Matthew Lison and Matt Rubinoff had a two-on-one opportunity at the end of the five minute overtime period. The game ended with a 3-3 final score.
"These were two good teams playing pretty evenly matched hockey. There was only one penalty in the whole game, there was certainly a playoff atmosphere," noted Kangas on the back and forth style of the game. "It is disappointing that we weren't able to pull off a win, but that is why you play sixty minutes. We're going to learn a lot from this game and from the weekend as a whole."
The final shot total was in Bowdoin's favor 33-29, moving both the Ephs and the Polar Bears to a 1-0-1 record this season.