Williams Ephs Defeat Bowdoin Polar Bears 4-1 In Home Opener

George Hunkele '17 by Bob Ewell
George Hunkele '17 by Bob Ewell

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams Ephs (1-0-0, 1-0-0 NESCAC) defeated the Bowdoin Polar Bears (0-1-0, 0-1-0 NESCAC) 4-1 tonight at the Lansing Chapman Rink. Williams got off to a 1-0 lead after the first off of a goal by junior George Hunkele. Despite Bowdoin tying the game near the halfway point of the game, the Ephs scored three unanswered goals to secure their victory over the Polar Bears.

"I thought for our opening game, everyone played really solid hockey. I thought each of the periods we got a little bit better," noted Williams head coach Bill Kangas.

Before the game commenced, both teams recognized Bowdoin head coach Terry Meagher. With this game, Meagher enters his 33rd, and last, season as head coach for the team.

Tonight was senior night for the Ephs, who recognized seniors Noah Klag (Bryn Mawr, PA), Greg Johnson (Dallas, TX), assistant captain Matt Werner (Rochester Hills, MI), and captain Zander Masucci (Far Hills, NJ), as well as their parents.

Bowdoin's netminder for the game was sophomore Peter Cronin. Last season Cronin's save percentage was .909. In net for the Ephs was senior Noah Klag, who had a .953 save percentage in his three games played last year. Cronin had 34 saves in the game, while Klag made 30.

"Noah was solid in net for us today. He came out and played really well," said Kangas. "We also moved the puck well today. It was a good team effort for us tonight."

After the first period, Williams had a 1-0 lead.

Each of the teams had  power play opportunities in the first period (Williams with two, Bowdoin with one), and despite good opportunities on both sides, neither team was able to capitalize on the man advantage.

The sole goal of the period came late in the first from George Hunkele. Hunkele fired one from a tough angle below the lower left circle, off of a long saucer pass from Greg Johnson, which Hunkele received after the puck ricocheted off the boards.  The goal was scored at 18:56, bringing the game to 1-0 after the first.

In the first period, Williams led in shot count 14-11.

There were three goals scored in the second period. The first came from the Polar Bears at 9:30, when they tied the game, bringing the score to 1-1. After an extended time in their offensive zone, Matthew Lison fired a shot from the point, which teammate Cody Todesco subsequently tipped behind Klag and scored. Todesco was assisted by Lison and and Joseph Lace.

The Ephs responded quickly on the power play, scoring just 28 seconds after the Bowdoin goal. At 9:49, Spencer Antunez went to the box for roughing, giving the Ephs their fourth power play opportunity of the game. Just nine seconds into the power play, junior Sam Gray made a cross pass low in the circle to sophomore David Italiano, who fired one passed Cronin. Cronin was unable to cross the crease in time to stop Italiano's shot, and thus the score became 2-1 for the Ephs.

Williams scored again at 13:32 of the second. Three Ephs found themselves low down in front the net, and after several quick shots on Cronin, he was caught down and unable to cover the whole crease, allowing junior defenseman James McNamara to get one past the goal line. McNamara was assisted on the play by Alex Hagerty and freshman Roberto Cellini.

The second period ended with the score at 3-1. The shot count in the period was even at 12-12, making the overall totals 26-23 in favor of the Ephs.

The third period was defined by physical play, with both teams being on the receiving end of some hard hits. Williams junior Tyler Young scored an unassisted goal at 16:19 of the third to bring the Ephs to a commanding 4-1 lead. Young stole the puck in the neutral zone, and subsequently skated past three Bowdoin players to get a shot off on Cronin. Young slipped the puck inside of the right post to secure his first goal of the season.

Looking to their match tomorrow, Kangas remarked: "It is so early on right now that there are a lot of little things we need to work on going forward. We had a tough test with a good team with Bowdoin tonight, and we are going to have a really tough test tomorrow with Colby."

The game ended with a score of 4-1 for the Ephs, securing their first victory of the season. The overall shot count was 38-31 for the Ephs, with the third period count being 12-8.

Bowdoin plays at Middlebury tomorrow at 4:00 PM, while Williams plays at home against Colby at 3:00 PM.