NESCAC Play-offs: first round

Semifinals at Williams on March 5:

Wesleyan (8th seed) v Williams (2nd seed)

Bowdoin (5th seed) v Colby (6th seed)

It’s a new era in the NESCAC as none of the four semifinalists has ever won the NESCAC championship. And, of course, Middlebury has never been absent from the finals (to say nothing of the semifinals). That match-up between Bowdoin and Colby should be a barn burner (the rubber match) — too bad it has to happen so far from Maine in a town where hockey fans seem to be few and far between. No dramatic surprises in the first round in truth: Wesleyan beat Hamilton during the regular season and had several wins over top-tier teams while Hamilton was not a good home team and had almost no big wins during the season; Middlebury did not close the season strong and had a mediocre home record while Colby has a great road record and closed the season strong; Bowdoin’s loss to Amherst during the regular season was a little fluky so no surprise that they would rise to the occasion when given a second chance)

Williams 4 Trinity 3 (the lone survivor of the top four seeds!! Williams pours it on in the third period, with Rubino tying it up midway through the period and Wickman getting the game winner with just a little more than thee minutes to go;  Vesprini was strong in net but the Williams offense was just relentless in the third period – it was one of those games where it was just a matter of time; how embarrassing that there are so few hockey fans and Williams continues to post fictitious attendance numbers (boxscore says 1007 attended the game when the real number looked to be a fraction of that); here’s a link to a write up of the game from the Williams website)

Bowdoin 4 Amherst 3 (OT) (Colin Downey scores the game winner at 18:29 of the first OT for the Polar Bears after Bowdoin successfully kills the lone Jeff PP of the OT; after Amherst scored a goal in the first and the teams exchanged goals in the second period for a 2-2 tie, Fanning ties the game with his 19th goal of the season in the third period for the Bears to make OT possible; Downey has a 3-point game (1-2-3); the Maine boys are looking good on the road as the upsets mount; frosh Messina has a strong game in net for the Bears, besting the veteran Anderson in net)

Colby 2 Middlebury 1 (history is made as the Panthers are eliminated in the first round for the first time ever; McKinney a rock in net for the Mules as Middlebury holds a huge territorial advantage (38-23 in SOGs); Mules jump out to a 2-0 lead after  two periods on goals by Nelson and Buonomo; Middlebury manages to slice the lead in half at 6:24 of the third period on a Svoboda PP goal but cannot get the equalizer; Yanchek gets the start and the loss as he is replaced by frosh BonDurant about 26 minutes into the game after the second Colby goal; BonDurant shuts the door the rest of the way but it doesn’t matter)

Wesleyan 5 Hamilton 2 (Wesleyan dominates the game for the first two periods, taking a 3-1 lead into the third period; Hamilton fights back in the third period on a Houk goal at 11:18 and manages to draw within one goal at 3-2 but Mucha adds a fourth goal for Wesleyan as insurance four and one-half minutes later and then a Salah empty netter for the final margin; Hadge strong in net for Wesleyan with 33 saves; Wesleyan ends up with a slight territorial advantage of 39-35 in SOGs but totally dominated the first two periods of the game when it took control of the game with a SOG margin of 27-13 in the first two periods)

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