Clinton, NY–The Williams Ephs (14-9-2) fell to the Hamilton Continentals (13-9-3) 4-3 in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Ephs were able to tie up the game late in the third period but Hamilton got the sudden, death overtime goal to advance in the conference championship.
The Ephs and the Continentals faced each other last weeked in the last game of the regular season. The Continentals were able to seal the win with a last minute empty net goal to win the game 4-2. The two teams played earlier in the season when the Ephs took home the win with a score of 3-0. Today's game is the third time these two teams face each other this season, this time in the NESCAC quarterfinals.
With both teams' seasons on the line, the game started with high intensity. The first period saw clean and crisp play with both teams matching up evenly. The Continentals broke the 0-0 stagnation 18:37 into the first period. Senior Jason Brochu pulled the puck out wide right before wristing a shot above the shoulder of Williams netminder, senior Michael PInios. Brochu was assisted by senior Ian Nichols and sophomore Sean Allen.
The first power play opportunity for either team came well into the second period. Brochu was sent to the box at 6:19 for interference. The Ephs capitalized on this opportunity to equalize the game when sophomore Nick VanBelle deflected a shot from freshman Jack McCool from the blue line at 8:08. VanBelle was also assisted by senior Roberto Cellini.
Within the second period, the Ephs were able to pull ahead of the Continentals with a late period goal to lead the scoring. Junior Wyatt Glover rocketed a shot past the Continental goaltender, junior Anthony Tirabassi, at 15:30. Glover was assisted by freshman Niko Karamanis.
Going into the third period, the score was 2-1, in favor of the Ephs. The Continentals were quick to the tie the game and did so within the first two minutes of the third period. At 1:42, sophomore Jon Beniers got the puck off the faceoff to the right of Pinios. Beniers took a shot from behind the net and found the far corner to tie the game.
With the NESCAC semifinal game on the line, the play turned aggressive and fights ensued on either end of the ice. Sophomore Bobby Beniers and Continental's Brochu were both sent to the box for roughing at 5:12. Just minutes later, Glover and Hamilton freshman Jordi Jefferson were involved in a mix up in front of Pinios. At 7:27 Jefferson was called for penalty for interfering with Pinios and Glover was called for grasping Jefferson's facemask in retaliation. Both players were sent to the locker room.
After the dust settled from the high intensity start of the third period, Hamilton was able to refocus and take the lead at 11:46. The goal came from freshman Joey Moore.
One goal down and less than ten minutes to go in the quarterfinal game, the Ephs fought hard to tie up the game and force the overtime minutes. Senior Marcus Mollica collected the puck deep in the Hamilton zone and fired one past the glove of Tirabassi at 18:40 to tie the game at 3-3.
The game was headed to a sudden death overtime to determine which team would advance to the conference semifinals. The Ephs were outshooting the Continentals the entire game and overtime was no different. The Ephs were putting up a multitude of quality scoring opportunities but Tirabassi held strong and did not let the Ephs in. Pinios, too, was successful in keeping the shots at bay even when the Continentals managed to get the puck into the crease. After nearly 11 minutes of extra play, it was Hamilton who came out on top. Sean Allen passed a puck to teammate Jason Brochu from deep in the Hamilton zone. Brochu was waiting patiently in the neutral zone behind the Eph defensemen when he received the puck. Brochu deflected Allen's pass forward to set himself up for a breakaway towards Pinios. The shot deflected off of Pinio's left pad but it wasn't enough. The puck trickled in at 9:11, sending the Continentals to the semifinals against the winner of Amherst vs. Colby and the Ephs home.
"I thought we played one of our better games this season. We played a full 60 minute game and didn't let up even in overtime," head coach Bill Kangas said. "It's unfortunate that sometimes it's just the way the puck bounces but I am proud of how hard this team's resiliency to tie up the game late in the third period. I thought we represented Williams well today even if things didn't turn our way today."