AMHERST, MA -- The Williams College Ephs (16-8-2 overall) defeated the Connecticut College Camels (14-10-2 overall) 4-2 in the NESCAC semifinals this afternoon, advancing to the conference finals Sunday. Junior Greg Johnson scored two goals for the Ephs, and sophomore Frankie Mork and senior Craig Kitto both added goals in the third period to secure the team's spot in the NESCAC Championship game Sunday.
"I thought we played well in all three zones today, said Williams head coach Bill Kangas on his team's play today. "I thought we were good on the puck, off the puck, at keeping things simple. Our defense was really good, obviously that has been a big goal of ours, especially in the past two weeks. Our defense was a lot better today, and for that reason, we gave ourselves a lot of offensive opportunities."
The first time these two teams played each other was back in November, when the Ephs came away with a 2-1 victory. The second time the Ephs and Camels faced each other was at the end of January, and the results were reversed, Connecticut College coming away with a 3-1 victory over the Ephs.
The Ephs came into this semi-final match with a 15-8-2 overall record on the season. The Ephs defeated the Bowdoin Polar Bears 4-3 last weekend in a nail biter standoff that finished in an overtime goal from senior Craig Kitto. The Camels came into this match with an overall record of 14-9-2. The Camels defeated Hamilton College 4-3 in the quarterfinals last weekend andthis game was also decided in overtime play.
Starting in net for Williams today was senior Sean Dougherty. Dougherty came into this start with a .913 save percentage on the season. Starting in net for Connecticut College was junior Tom Conlin, who boasted a .924 save percentage coming into today's semifinal contest.
There was no notable action in the first period, with the first twenty minutes resulting in no goals or power plays. Williams had the offensive advantage in the first, however, with shots on goal in their favor 13-4.
Connecticut College got on the board first in this match, around halfway through the second period. Camels' sophomore Greg Liautoaud fired a wrist shot from the center of the zone. The puck was ultimately deflected off of a Williams defenseman, and went top shelf over Dougherty at 9:15. This was Liautoaud's fifth goal of the year, and gave his team a 1-0 lead at the halfway point of the game. Liautoaud was unassisted on the play.
Williams was given the opportunity to respond shortly thereafter, when at 12:22, Camels' sophomore Brian Belisle was called to the penalty box for interference. Coming into this man advantage, the Ephs had been 25.3% on the power play this season. Connecticut College had been 81.9% on the penalty kill.
The Ephs capitalized on this man advantage at 14:09, when Greg Johnson (seventh goal) fired one from the left point past Conlin, who was effectively screened on the play by Ephs' freshman C.J. Shugart. Johnson was assisted on the play by freshman David Italiano (twelfth assist) and sophomore James McNamara (ninth assist). This goal tied the game at one.
After two periods of play, the shot count remained in the Ephs' advantage 28-17 overall, and 15-13 in the period. The game headed into the third period with a score of 1-1.
The third period started off with 4-4 play, as matching penalties were awarded to both sides at the conclusion of the second period, Camels' senior Adam Patel in the box for boarding, Ephs' Alex DeBaere in the box for roughing.
Right at the 2:00 mark, with four men on the ice for both teams, Williams took a 2-1 lead in the game, as Greg Johnson fired a wrist shot past Conlin from the left slot, scoring his eighth goal of the year, and second goal of the game. Johnson was assisted by sophomores Tyler Young (thirteenth assist) and James McNamara (tenth assist).
At 7:48 of the third period, Williams extended their lead to two goals, as Frankie Mork (third goal) fired a shot from the bottom of the left wing circle. Mork was assisted on the play by junior Matt Werner (second assist). This goal made the score 3-1.
The Camels responded soon after, when at 9:20, JC Cangelosi (eleventh goal) shot one past Dougherty immediately off of a faceoff. This goal brought the Camels within one, the score now 3-2.
Williams regained their two goal lead at 14:18 into the third period, when Craig Kitto and freshman Colby Cretella converted on a 2-1. Cretella (eighth assist) made the cross pass to Kitto (thirteenth goal), who fired one top shelf, bringing the game's score to 4-2.
"We just have to keep building on where we're at," noted Kangas. "Right now obviously we don't know who we're playing, but we know that we have to play two-hundred feet well, we've got to be smart. Both teams are opportunistic, and we have to eliminate turnovers by being smart with the puck. I think we made some improvements today, and we have to be even better tomorrow in the finals."
The game ended with a final score of 4-2, Connecticut College's season ending with the conclusion of this match. The Camels outshot the Ephs 12-6 in the third period, but the Ephs outshot the Camels 34-29 in the game. The Ephs advance to the conference finals tomorrow in Amherst, MA, playing the victor in the Amherst vs. Tufts match that followed the Ephs' contest.