HARTFORD, CT -- The Williams Ephs (14-4-1, 10-2-1 NESCAC) defeated the Trinity Bantams (14-4-1, 10-3-0 NESCAC) 5-4 tonight at the Koeppel Community Center after being down 2-0. Five goals were scored in the third period to ultimately bring the Ephs the victory, with junior George Hunkele scoring two on the night.
The Bantams came into this matchup on a seven game win streak, and having won ten of the past 11 games played. The Ephs came into this matchup having won eigth of their past nine games. Additionally, the Bantams came into the contest ranked first in the conference with Williams directly below them; however, with this victory, the Ephs take the title of first ranked in the conference from the Bantams. The Ephs defeated Trinity on January 9th 3-2 in Wileiliamstown, so this victory marks a season sweep for Williams.
Freshman Michael Pinios was the netminder for the Ephs tonight. While this was the first start for Pinios where he allowed more than two goals, he still lead his team to a tremendous comeback victory. Senior Nathaniel Heilbron was the starting goaltender tonight for the Bantams. Pinios made 29 saves tonight, while Heilbron made 16.
The Bantams got off to a big start in this matchup, racking up a two goal lead in the first period. The first goal came at 14:45 on the power play for the Bantams, when junior Sean Orlando fired one past Pinios, off of a pass from senior Michael Hawkrigg (fourth assist). This marked Orlando's sixth goal of the season. Trinity's special teams unit came into this contest with a 16.5% success rate on the power play.
Trinity secured their 2-0 lead at the tail end of the period. At 19:28, Bantams' junior Ethan Holdaway scored his 11th goal of the season on a play assisted by Connor Hegarty (fourth assist).
"I think the first period actually helped us when we went down 2-0," commented Williams head coach Bill Kangas. "Trinity played very well, we made a couple mistakes, and they scored. To sit back in the second and reflect, I think that did a lot for us, revealed a lot. It was just one of those games where you had to play for the next shift and stay in the moment."
The Ephs got their first goal of the game near the midway point of the match. At 11:19 of the second period, Williams cut the the Bantams' lead in half on the power play. Coming into tonight's game, the Ephs had been 21.7% on the man advantage. George Hunkele came up big with his fifth goal of the season to give his team the initial push it needed. Hunkele was assisted on the play classmate James McNamara (fifth assist). Williams headed into the locker rooms down 2-1 headed into the final 20 minutes of play.
Five goals were scored in the third period, the first coming from Williams to tie the game at two. At 7:30, senior Zander Masucci shot one from the point, and sophomore overall points leader David Italiano deflected the puck past Heilbron. This was Italiano's eighth goal and Masucci's ninth assist of the season.
Just :14 seconds later, the Bantams recaptured the lead. At 7:44, sophomore Tyler Whitney had an unassisted goal off of a small breakaway. This was Whitney's fifth of the season, bringing the game to 3-2 for Trinity. This goal marked the first time Williams' goaltender Michael Pinios allowed more than two goals in a game.
"In games like this, with such back and forth play, you can't be caught up with the score," noted Kangas. "We are just trying to get one more than they do, that has to be the mentality: to focus on next shift and next opportunity. I thought the guys did a good job being prepared on the bench and really being ready when they stepped onto the ice tonight."
Shortly thereafter, at 8:12, the Ephs responded again to tie the game at three. Freshman Roberto Cellini battled to get one through in the crease for his third of the season, and was assisted by junior Tyler Young (sixth assist). The game was now 3-3, with 11:48 to go.
At 15:51 of the third, George Hunkele scored his second of the game, giving the Ephs the lead for the first time in the contest. Hunkele shot one off unassisted through a screen, accruing his sixth goal of the season, elevating the score to 4-3 with just over four minutes of play remaining.
With 1:21 remaining on the clock, the Bantams pulled Heilbron to gain the 6-5 man advantage. Subsequently, after a controversial waved off icing call, the Bantams tied the game at 19:04, just seconds remaining in the contest. Sophomore Anthony Sabitsky, for his eighth of the season, fired one through off of an assist by junior T.J. Sherman (seventh assist). This goal brought the score to 4-4 with :56 seconds left on the clock, and ultimately extended the game into overtime.
The Ephs made quick work of the extra minutes, pouncing on the first real opportunity presented. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Tyler Young and Zander Masucci had a 2-1, Young cross passed it to Masucci who shot one glove side at :37 to claim the 5-4 victory, as well as the top ranking in the conference. This goal ended Trinity's seven game win streak, and solidified the win for the Ephs in this back and forth game.
"Obviously when you play the defending national champions, they are going to play like how we saw," stated Kangas. "So it was a nice win over a strong team, but now we have to shift into focusing on tomorrow, a new day and a new matchup. These were two big points, but we now need to be ready for tomorrow, that is our mindset."
Williams next plays Wesleyan tomorrow at 3:00 PM on the road, while Trinity faces off against Middlebury at 4:00 PM at home.