Men's Hockey: Suffers OT loss to Bowdoin
In a game that will forever be known as one of the greatest in the history of their rivalry, the Colby College Mules and Bowdoin College Polar Bears battled into an overtime session on Saturday night in the first round of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament. Described by one spectator as a "rollercoaster of emotions," the two teams were incredibly evenly-matched, with the Polar Bears ultimately scoring in overtime to take a 2-1 victory and advance in the tournament.
With Colby already having beaten Bowdoin twice this season, including once in Brunswick, Maine, the Polar Bears were correct in questioning their ability to defend their home ice in spite of their higher seeding. Colby came out of the gate firing, producing the best chances of the first period. Just two minutes into the contest, Michael Smigelski '13 fired two quick shots, the first of which was stopped by the Bowdoin goaltender and the second of which clanged off the post and went wide. Later in the period, co-captain Matt Strickland '10 was robbed on a glove save by the sprawling Bowdoin goaltender, and the opening frame ultimately ended right where it started: 0-0.
Colby netminder Cody McKinney '11 saved his best performance of the season for this game. He was simply dominant between the pipes for the entire contest, making 13 saves in the first period and nine in the second. His ability to keep the potent Bowdoin offense, which led the NESCAC in goals per game, coming into the contest- off the board allowed his teammates to comfortably keep firing away on the other end of the ice. Both McKinney and the Bowdoin goalie were outstanding all night, and after two periods the game still had yet to see its first goal.
The third period saw an incredible flurry of action, as both teams pressed forward to score the first goal. It was then that Wil Hartigan '11 rose to the occasion, taking a pass from Nick Kondiles '13 and firing it into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Mules, Bowdoin struck back just 30 seconds later, and despite both teams' best efforts the score remained deadlocked as the clock expired, meaning that a sudden death overtime period would be needed to determine a winner.
After making a dazzling 17 saves during the third period alone, McKinney again played the hero for the Mules in overtime, as he turned away the Polar Bear attack time and again en route to an additional eight saves, bringing his total for the game to 47. Colby pushed forward to counter the Bowdoin pressure, spending a lot of time in the Polar Bear zone, forcing the goalie to make three saves of his own. With just under five minutes to play, Bowdoin connected several passes in the Colby defensive zone and were somehow able to beat McKinney, scoring a goal to put the team through to next week's semi-final round.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Mules had a very successful season this year, returning to the playoffs and often achieving very good results against the premier teams in the league. The team looks ahead to next year with great optimism, knowing that they will be returning their top seven scorers on offense and the stalwart McKinney in goal. Surely the men will build on the great things that they achieved this season.