Men's hockey splits with Bowdoin
One out of two ain’t bad. That’s what the Colby men’s hockey team should be thinking after this weekend. In a two game, home-and-home series with rival Bowdoin College, each team won at the other’s home rink. Colby’s record moved to 2-4 overall, while Bowdoin is now 3-2-1.
On Friday night, a packed Alfond Arena figured to be about as friendly to the Polar Bears as the Sahara, but Bowdoin came out and reminded everybody that its mascot lives on ice. Looking completely at home, the team from Brunswick jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before junior Cory McGrath cut the lead to one at 8:48 of the second period, much to the delight of the home crowd. Bowdoin answered loudly, however, with two goals in a mere 13 seconds at 15:17 and 15:30 of the second period before adding another tally with just under 2:15 to go in the frame to take a 5-1 lead into the third.
Less than six minutes into the final period, the Polar Bears put another tally on the board to extend their lead to 6-1, a lead they held until 26 seconds remained when Scott Harff ’13 potted the second goal of the game for the Mules. It hardly mattered as the final score reflected a romp by the Polar Bears, 6-2. Bowdoin dominated the game, and it showed not only in goals, but in the fact that the Polar Bears outshot Colby 45-28. With such a deficit in shots on net, only a super-human effort by junior netminder Matt Delaney could have saved the game, and unfortunately there was no “S” on his chest on this night. Bowdoin was no doubt licking its chops in anticipation of another matchup with Colby the following night, this time at its home rink. Bowdoin netted a pair early and staked itself to another 2-0 lead heading into the second period. At 14:38 of the second, they added yet another score—this time shorthanded—and it looked as if the Polar Bears might take a 3-0 lead into the final stanza.
Junior Spike Smigelski had something to say about that, as he scored less than two minutes later on an assist from McGrath, ensuring the Mules got on the scoreboard before the third period. Unfortunately, with seven minutes left in the game, it looked as if Bowdoin would hold on to win once again and sweep Colby in the season series. But then Coach Stan Moore’s team did what it has done multiple times this season: it woke up and took over the game.
Sophomore Ben Chwick tallied his second goal of the season off of assists from fellow sophomore Anthony Raymond and senior Chris Buonomo with 6:30 remaining. 3-2 Bowdoin.
Another sophomore, Nick Lanza, put in number three to tie the game just 2:47 later off of an assist from Nick Kondiles ’13. 3-3, all tied up. Senior Mike Doherty put the icing on the cake when he took a pass from fellow senior Matt Rappaport to score the game-winning goal, his 75th career point (28 goals, 47 assists), with only 1:11 to go. 4-3 Colby. Bowdoin emptied its net at the end but could not respond as Delaney stood tall in net, making 13 saves without allowing a goal in crunch time to help the dramatic comeback. He finished with 29 saves on 32 shots—a large improvement from the previous night.
Splitting the series is a big emotional victory for a Colby team that is 2-4 on the young season and must improve its consistency if it wishes to make another playoff appearance. The second game was without a doubt the biggest victory of the season so far and the biggest thus far for Coach Moore’s brief tenure as the head coach. It is the Mules’ first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponent this season. Last year, Bowdoin swept Colby in the regular season (including a dramatic comeback from 5-1 down to win 6-5) and eliminated the Mules in the semifinals of the playoffs en route to a NESCAC title (which it then vacated due to unscrupulous behavior by the team). I said last week that winning one or both of these games would be a big step for Colby going forward, and it definitely is, coming from behind on the road after being beat by that same team at home the night before.
Now, the team must refocus its attention on the remaining two games on its pre-winter break schedule. The Mules will face off against Connecticut College on Friday, Dec. 9 and Tufts University on Saturday, Dec. 10, both at home. This will be a big week to see if Colby can build off its momentum from the win this past Saturday.