WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams College Ephs (7-4-0, 6-2-0 NESCAC) beat the Wesleyan College Cardinals (6-2-3, 2-2-2 NESCAC) 3-2 this afternoon in the Lansing Chapman Rink. Junior netminder Michael Pinios made 27 saves on the afternoon to lead his team to a hard fought victory.
Wesleyan has had a strong season thus far, having not lost another game since their first match of the season in mid November. Coming into this matchup, the Cardinals were riding a five game win streak. They faced Middlebury last night and came away with a 5-3 victory.
The Ephs faced Trinity last night at home, and came away with a decisive 5-1 victory.
"Today we had our ups and downs, but I thought we played great," noted Williams head coach Mike Monti. "We did a lot of things to continue to be successful playing down low. Liked we talked about this week, our mentality was being like a dog on a bone. Try to take a dog away from a bone- that's a pretty tough and scary thing, and that's how we wanted to play: with that tenacity, attitude, grit."
In net for the Cardinals this afternoon was sophomore Tim Sestak. Sestak came into this game with a .931 save percentage. In net for the Ephs was Michael Pinios. Pinios came into this match with a .911 save percentage.
At 8:38 of the first period, Wesleyan senior Dylan Holze brought the puck into the zone, and on a solo effort fired off a wrist shot from the center of the zone. Holze (tenth goal) brought his team the 1-0 lead, with sophomores Walker Harris (seventh assisted) and Spencer Fox (ninth assist) getting assists on the goal.
At 9:46, the Ephs were able to get the equalizer on a play facilitated by junior Roberto Cellini. Cellini brought the puck into the zone, driving down the left side with speed, made a fake towards the goal and fed the pass back to senior Joe Welch. Welch was in the pocket, and was able to fire one off quickly to beat Sestak on the play. Welch (second goal) was assisted on the play by Cellini (seventh assist) and senior David Italiano (fifth assist).
At 11:28, a Wesleyan goal was disallowed because of goaltender interference, and Spencer Fox was subsequently given a two minute minor for the play, giving the Ephs the first man advantage of the game. Williams has sported an impressive power play unit so far this season, their success rate coming into this game at nearly 27%.
At 12:06, the Williams special teams unit was able to convert on the extra man opportunity. Italiano (sixth assist) fired off the initial shot from low down on the left side, and classmate C.J. Shugart (seventh goal) was able to pick up the quick rebound right in front of the net to cash in his seventh goal of the season. This brought the Ephs the 2-1 lead.
The Cardinals responded on a full strength play with around five minutes remaining in the period. At 15:32, sophomore Tyler Wyatt (sixth goal), stationed at the left post, was able to drive one past Pinios off of a rebound. The initial shot came from linemate Holze from the pocket. This marked Holze's ninth assist of the season and second point on the day.
After the first 20 minutes, the Ephs led in shots 12-7.
On the four goal period, Monti commented: "We worked really hard for those first two goals, and we maybe gave up those first two goals a little too easy. The message in between periods was that we've got to be better than that, we've got to be harder than that to play against, and I think the guys responded."
The Ephs picked up another goal at 3:26 of the second period. Roberto Cellini brought the puck from behind the net up into the pocket and fired one off, while covered, to bring the game to 3-2. Cellini (fourth goal) was assisted on the play by Welch (sixth assist).
After two periods, shot count was 18-16 for Williams.
A few minutes into the third period, overlapping penalties were called on the Ephs, and the Cardinals had a 5-3 opportunity for around :30 seconds.
At the end of the second overlapping penalty, the Ephs were served another penalty for too many men on the ice at 5:11. This penalty gave the Cardinals over five minutes straight with the extra man, however the Ephs were able to get out of these penalty kills unscathed.
At 16:02, sophomore Will Somers was called to the box for tripping, giving the Cardinals yet another extra man opportunity. The Ephs yet again were able to kill the penalty.
With one minute remaining the Cardinals pulled their goalie to gain an extra man, however the game ended with a score of 3-2, the Ephs successfully fending off a strong offensive third period for the Cardinals. Shot count at the end of the 60 minutes was 29-19 for Wesleyan, the Ephs managing only one shot on goal in the final 20 minutes of play.
Wesleyan next takes on Bowdoin Friday January 12th at 7:00 PM at home. The Ephs next face Brockport on the road Tuesday at 3:00 PM, followed by back to back home games against Manhattanville and Plattsburgh Friday and Saturday.
On the three game week ahead of them, Monti noted: "We have to continue to play our game. We're playing against a lot of different styles of teams this week, in Brockport, Manhattanville and Plattsburgh, obviously they all have their strengths that are a little bit different from each other."
"Having to go play at Brockport is going to be interesting- it is their first game back from break and obviously playing in their rink is a challenge. That's going to be special for us, and an opportunity for us to see all of the pieces come together," said Monti.
"Coming back and playing Friday against Manhattanville- they're coming off of a really big win, as is Plattsburgh who I believe just won their tournament, so really good opportunities to do things well out of conference. It's a great opportunity for us to learn about ourselves and be ready for the final stretch."