Ephs Fall to Hamilton Continentals 5-1

Greg Johnson '16 by Bob Ewell
Greg Johnson '16 by Bob Ewell

CLINTON, NY -- The Hamilton Continentals (9-8-6, 7-6-4 NESCAC) defeated the Ephs (14-7-2, 10-6-1 NESCAC)  5-1 tonight at the Russell Sage Rink. The Continentals got off to a 3-0 lead less than halfway through the game, and Tim Nowacki made an impressive fifty-one saves in net to secure this win for Hamilton.  

These two teams last met in early December. In that first match, the Continentals took a 5-2 victory over the Ephs.

Coming into this match, the Continentals had an overall season record of 8-8-6, with a NESCAC record of 6-6-4. Williams came into this match with a 14-6-2 overall record, and were 10-5-1 in the NESCAC.

Sean Dougherty was in net for the Ephs tonight, coming into the contest with a .920 save percentage.  In net for the Continentals was Tim Nowacki, who had a .918 save percentage up to this match.

On giving up five goals in the game, Williams head coach Bill Kangas commented: "We made some defensive mistakes tonight. Two goals came from faceoffs. We made mistakes, they capitalized. They converted on a 2-1, off of faceoffs- just some overall defensive lapses, and the score reflected that."

Hamilton got an early lead, coming out of the first period with two unanswered goals. Their first goal came at 18:05 into the first, when Pat Curtis (eighth goal) fired one past Sean Dougherty. Curtis was assisted on the play by teammates Robbie Murden (sixteenth assist) and Brad Smelstor (sixth assist).

Just twelve seconds later, the Continentals secured a 2-0 lead, as Truman Landowski buried his fourth goal of the year. Tyler Bruneteau (fourth assist) and Brandon Willett (fourth assist) were awarded assists on the play.

These two goals rounded out scoring for the first period. While only Hamilton was able to get on the board in the first, Williams outshot the Continentals 18-9 after twenty minutes of play.

The Ephs got an opportunity early on in the second period, after Bennett Hambrook for Hamilton went to the box for tripping at 2:39. Williams was unable to take advantage of having the extra man, however.

At 9:49, Hamilton took a 3-0 lead over the Ephs, after Kenny Matheson (ninth goal) got one past Dougherty off of a pass from Bennett Hambrook (sixth assist). Robbie Murden (seventeenth assist) also earned an assist on the play, his second of the game.

Williams scored its first goal of the game on the power play just minutes later. Nicholas Vassos for Hamilton went to the box for interference at 12:03. Subsequently, at 12:24, sophomore Tyler Young scored his sixth goal of the season on this man advantage. Young was assisted by junior classmates Greg Johnson (sixth assist) and Frankie Mork (fourth assist). This goal brought the score to 3-1.

Hamilton managed to get one more past the Ephs in the period. At 19:17 into the second, Brandon Willett scored his fourth goal of the season, giving his team a 4-1 lead heading into the third period. Willett was assisted on the play by Tyler Bruneteau (fifth assist), who cashed in his second assist of the night, and Truman Landowski (third assist).

After two periods, the shot count remained in the Ephs' favor 33-17, with second period totals coming to 15-8.

On the team's ability to generate a lot of shots on goal, Kangas noted:  "Offensively, I thought we were pretty strong tonight. Hamilton's Nowacki made some good saves on us. We moved pretty well tonight, though. I liked how we moved the puck, created some solid chances. When we don't have the puck, we need to be better on the puck."

At 8:52, Tim Nowacki went to the box for hooking, resulting in the Continentals playing with a man down for two minutes, giving the Ephs a power play opportunity. At 9:47, Scott Vazquez also went to the box for Hamilton for boarding, now giving Williams around one minute on a 5-3 man advantage. The Ephs were unable to capitalize on either of these two power play chances.

Coach Kangas chose to pull Sean Dougherty at 17:59 into the third period, seeing as the Ephs were trailing by three goals. However, at 18:40, the Continentals secured their victory after Robbie Murden scored on the empty net.

The game resulted in a final score of 5-1. Williams outshot Hamilton 19-5 in the final twenty minutes of play, and 52-22 overall. This victory for Hamilton made them one of two conference teams (Trinity being the second) to beat Williams in both of the season's matches.

"Overall, I think we did a lot of really good things, got a lot of shots on goal," said Kangas. "Ultimately, we had the opportunity to score more than we did. This will only make us hungrier for our big game tomorrow and the playoffs next week."

With this win, Hamilton's overall record moves to 9-8-6, and 7-6-4 in the NESCAC. Williams' overall record moves to 14-7-2, and 10-6-1 in the conference.

Hamilton next faces Middlebury Saturday at 3:00 PM. Williams next takes on Amherst Saturday at 3:00 to round out their regular season.