WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – In a game in which the Williams Ephs (13-5-1, 9-3-1 NESCAC) struggled to find rhythm on offense until the third period, a late goal made the difference in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Trinity Bantams (11-3-5, 7-2-4 NESCAC).
After being outshot 22-8 in the first two periods and facing a 2-1 deficit, sophomore defenseman Jack McCool took advantage of a slip by Trinity's Michael O'Brien and put a wrist shot into the bottom-right corner of the net to tie the game at two. But Trinity, who controlled the pace of the game throughout, struck back when forward Adam Anderson capitalized on a Williams turnover and sent one past senior goalie Michael Pinios, cementing a 3-2 win and snapping the Ephs' six-game winning streak.
"I thought our guys really did a nice job in the third period. We had a good pushback – we scored the goal to tie it, and we had multiple chances to go ahead, but give [Trinity] credit," commented Eph head coach Bill Kangas after the game.
Trinity played aggressive, physical hockey from the opening whistle – best exemplified when two minutes into the game, Bantams forward Ryan Pfeffer crashed into Pinios, resulting in a roughing penalty. But Trinity continued to control the game early, dominating time of possession and successfully killing the penalty while taking the first six shots of the game. The Ephs, however, suddenly flipped the momentum when senior forward Marcus Mollica delivered a quick pass to senior forward Roberto Cellini. Cellini promptly scored on a one-timer, to Trinity goalie Jonah Capriotti's left, to put the Ephs ahead 1-0.
After the goal, Trinity's pace slowed down considerably and Williams' defense, at one point, consistently blocked Bantam shots (for a total of 7 blocked shots in the period) and prevented Trinity from getting a shot on goal for a whopping 9:56. The Bantams had one last scoring chance, in which Pinios was able to save two thunderous Trinity slap shots, after a tripping penalty on Eph sophomore defenseman Daniel Woolfenden, but were unable to score. Despite being outshot 10-3, the Ephs managed to escape the first period with a lead.
But Trinity's offensive dominance yielded better results in the second period. Less than six minutes into the period, following an icing call against Williams, the Bantams won a faceoff in the offensive zone and tied the game on a rocket slap shot from right in front of the blue line by defenseman James Callahan. The Bantams broke through again eight minutes later, when in a similar fashion to Callahan's goal earlier in the period, Trinity forward Michael Grande buried another one-timer slap shot, this time right under the crossbar, to give Trinity their first lead of the game at 2-1.
It could have been worse for the Ephs, who were outshot 12-5 in the second for a total margin of 22-8 in favor of the Bantams. Despite allowing two goals, Pinios stayed calm and alert, making impressive saves and pouncing on loose pucks in front of the net. But for the second straight period, Williams was unable to generate a consistent offensive push, and this time, the Bantams were able to capitalize on their significant shot advantage.
In the third, the Ephs fought back, as McCool took advantage of the Trinity slip to tie the game at 2-2 four minutes into the period. For the first time, Williams was able to consistently stay in the offensive zone, but three excellent scoring chances came up just short. First, with 11 minutes to play, junior defenseman Max Fuld was able to sneak past Capriotti and get a shot off, but ended up redirecting his own shot wide right of the net. Two minutes afterward, the puck bounced loose in front of the trinity net but junior forward Will Somers was unable to get a shot off. Finally, with less than seven minutes to play, freshman forward Niko Karamanis took a backhanded shot attempt right in front of the net, but Capriotti saved it at the last second to hold the score at 2-2.
Trinity's goal with four and a half minutes left ended up being the difference, as Anderson received a pass up the ice following a Williams turnover and unleashed a perfect shot past Pinios to put the Bantams up for good. The Ephs did have a power play opportunity with under three minutes remaining, and even removed Pinios for a 6-on-4 advantage for the latter part of it, but were unable to tie the game for a second time.
Despite Williams' third-period rally, the Bantams still maintained a considerable shot advantage, 26-12. And even though the two teams combined for seven penalties – including five against Trinity – neither team was able to convert on a power play.
"We had a good push in the third, so if there's anything we learned, I really like how we responded for one period. You just wish it was for three," remarked Kangas.
Tomorrow at 3:00PM, the Ephs face another tough challenge, as they take on Wesleyan, who is undefeated in NESCAC play, at home.