WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – To claim their first NESCAC title the Williams College men's ice hockey team (15-8-2) will have to win two games on the road, not to mention two games on the campus of archrival Amherst College.
Three of the four teams in Amherst have never won the NESCAC title. Amherst has won two NESCAC titles: 2009 & 2012, while Williams, Connecticut College, and Tufts are in search of a first conference crown.
The Ephs will be seeking their fourth trip to the NESCAC title contest when they meet Connecticut College Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in Amherst's Orr Rink and host Amherst (second seed) will play Tufts (eighth seed) at 4:00 p.m.
Williams was the fourth seed in the tourney field and Connecticut College was seeded third.
Saturday's winners will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday in Orr Rink to determine the NESCAC champion and the recipient of the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Connecticut College is 14-9-2 on the year, but the Camels have been one of the hottest teams in the country since January 1 going 12-4-1. The Camels enter the semifinal round having won their last three games in a row.
|Colby Cretella '18|
Connecticut College defeated sixth seeded Hamilton College 4-3 in overtime at home this past Saturday to gain a spot in the semifinals. JC Cangelosi netted the game winner at 10:57 off of feeds from Tim DiPretoro and Joe Birmingham. DiPretoro had a hand in three of the four Camel goals, scoring once and assisting on two goals.
Connecticut goalie Tim Conlin turned aside 26 of 29 shots by Hamilton to record the win.
The Ephs also had to go extra time to advance to the semifinals after surrendering a 3-1 lead in the third period versus Bowdoin. Senior forward Craig Kitto scored at 9:26 off a set up by Sam Gray to lift the Ephs over Bowdoin 4-3. Kitto was one of four Ephs to score on the day along with Colby Cretella, David Italiano, and Alex DeBaere. DeBaere's score came on a penalty shot at 11:20 of the third period.
Eph senior goalie Sean Dougherty was called on to make 44 saves on the day to keep the Ephs' season alive and put Williams into the NESCAC semis for the fifth consecutive year.
The Camels average 2.8 goals a game and they have allowed 2.4 per contest. Connecticut College is led in scoring by Tim DiPretoro who averages a point a game this season having scored 10 goals and assisted on 15. JC Cangelosi has 21 points on 10 goals and 11 assists.
Connecticut College has an 81.9% success rate in killing off penalties this season, while the Camels have scored 17.7% of the time they have been on the power play.
Tim Conlin ranks fifth in NESCAC in goals allowed (2.25) and he has .924 save percentage, which is fourth best in the conference.
Williams is averaging 3.12 goals a game, while allowing 2.52. Craig Kitto leads Williams in scoring with 26 points on 12 goals and 14 assists. David Italiano has amassed 22 points with 11 goals and 11 assists.
Sean Dougherty has a goals against average of 2.47 this season and he boasts a .913 save percentage.
The Ephs have been successful in killing off 78.9% of their penalties, while they have scored 25.3% of the time they have had a man advantage.
The Ephs and Camels split their two regular season contests with Williams winning at home in November 2-1 and the Camels winning in New London, Conn., on January 30, 3-1.
Looking ahead to Saturday's contest Eph head coach Bill Kangas noted, "We have to be smart with the puck because we are playing a team that is strong in all three zones and disciplined. We know they're good and we know they are on a roll. It should be a great game."