The Middlebury College men's hockey team has advanced to the semifinal round of the NESCAC Tournament for the 13th time in 14 years. The Panthers will travel to Bowdoin to take on the Polar Bears on Saturday, March 2nd at 4:00 p.m. Williams will take on Trinity at 1:00 p.m. with the title game scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are priced at $5 for adults, $2 for students and are on sale now through Friday at noon. CLICK HERE to purchase online. You may also call 802-443-6433 or stop by the McCullough or Mahaney box offices during normal business hours. Championship game tickets will be available following each semifinal game or at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Bowdoin (20-3-2, 13-3-2 NESCAC) locked up the top seed for the third time in program history with a dramatic 2-1 overtime triumph over Connecticut College. With the win, the Polar Bears put an exclamation point on an outstanding regular season that included a 13 game unbeaten streak and sweeps of Williams and Hamilton. Over the course of the year, Bowdoin’s high-powered offense has netted 110 goals and scored three or more times in 23 of its 25 games. The Polar Bears hosted eighth seeded Hamilton in the quarterfinals and skated to a 5-3 win after scoring three goals to overcome a 3-2 second period deficit. Bowdoin is making its fourth straight semifinal appearance and ninth overall.
Four Polar Bears rank among the league’s top point producers, with junior Ollie Koo (Greenwich, Conn.) avergaing 1.29 points per game (14-15-29), while classmate Harry Matheson (Kingston, Ont.) averages 1.12 points per game (11-16-27). Senior Daniel Weiniger (Warren, N.J.) leads Bowdoin with 16 goals, while adding 10 assists on the year, while sophomore John McGinnis (Cocoa, Fla.) and senior Robert Toczylowski (Reading, Mass.) also have big offensive numbers, with 25 and 23 points apiece. Sophomore Max Fenkell (Meadowbrook, Pa.) has a 2.13 goals against average in 620 minutes, while junior Steve Messina (Newton, N.J.) has a 2.79 goals against average in 883 minutes of action.
Middlebury, entering the championship as the fifth seed, defeated fourth seeded Amherst in a thrilling 4-3 quarterfinal showdown. The teams split their regular season meetings and the Panthers had a 4-1 lead with just five minutes to play. The Jeffs were able to score two goals in the final three minutes, but the Panthers held on to advance to their thirteenth semifinal in 14 years. Owning a 28-5 mark in NESCAC Championship games, Middlebury (11-5-2, 13-10-2 NESCAC) has a league-leading eight NESCAC titles. The Panthers’ last NESCAC crown came in 2010. Middlebury’s offense has been sparked by 13 goals from junior Louis Belisle (Repentigny, Que.), while first year Matt Silcoff (Thornhill, Ont.) has 11 goals. Sophomore Derek Pimentel (Laval, Que.) has 15 assists.
In their five championship meetings, Middlebury owns a 5-0 mark. The teams met in last year’s semifinals, where the Panthers won 6-3, their largest margain of defeat against Bowdoin in championship play. The Polar Bears have made five trips to the NESCAC Championship game, with four of those championship losses coming at the hands of Middlebury. During their regular season meetings, they skated to a 4-4 tie in Brunswick opening weekend, with Bowdoin earning a 3-0 win in Middlebury on January 19.
The other semifinal battle features second seeded Williams and third seeded Trinity. After falling 4-1 to Bowdoin on January 18, Williams (16-6-3, 12-4-2 NESCAC) went 7-1-2 over the final month to seal the second seed. The Ephs’ stretch run included wins over Middlebury, Amherst, and Hamilton. A 2-1 win over Colby in the quarterfinals put the Ephs in their fourth semifinal since 2009 and third straight. Sophomore Sean Dougherty (Smithtown, N.Y.) has the best goals against average in the league (1.98) in 1398:14 and has a .933 save percentage, good for second. Senior defenders John Wickman (Dallas, Texas) and Nick Anderson (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) each have three power play goals, tied for fifth best in the league, while sophomore Peter Mistretta (New Canaan, Conn.) leads the Williams’ offense with 14 goals and six assists. The Ephs have made one appearance in the championship game, while their opponent has been to championship game four times, including three straight appearances from 2002-04. Trinity previously won the 2003 and 2008 NESCAC Championship.
The Bantams locked up the third seed with a wild 10-5 victory over Bowdoin in the regular season finale. As the hottest team in the conference as the season drew to a close, Trinity (15-6-3, 11-4-3 NESCAC) headed into quarterfinal play as winners of eight of their last ten games. Their stellar season has included at least one win over each NESCAC team. Trinity had a wild 5-4 overtime win over sixth seeded Wesleyan to advance to the semifinals for the first time in three years. In their three championship meetings, Trinity holds the 2-1 advantage, though Williams won their last matchup, a 4-3 quarterfinal win in 2011. In their regular season meetings, the teams skated to a 1-1 tie in Hartford on January 4. The Bantams won their February 1 meeting in Williamstown, 3-1. Junior Benjamin Coulthard (South Windsor, Conn.) leads the league with a .936 save percentage, while senior Jeffrey Menard (Burlington, Mass.) has 23 points off of five goals and 18 assists. Senior Chris Menard (Burlington, Mass.) has 13 goals, including a league-best seven power play goals, while first year Jackson Brewer (Newton, Mass.) has 11 goals. First year Michael Hawkrigg (Toronto, Ont.) is tied for first in the league with five game winning goals.
Quarterfinals - Saturday, February 23
#1 Bowdoin def. #8 Hamilton, 5-3
#2 Williams def. #7 Colby, 2-1
#3 Trinity def. #6 Wesleyan, 5-4 OT
#5 Middlebury def. #4 Amherst, 4-3
Semifinals - Saturday, March 2 - hosted by Bowdoin
#3 Trinity vs. #2 Williams - 1:00 pm
#5 Middlebury at #1 Bowdoin - 4:00 pm
Championship - Sunday, March 3 - hosted by Bowdoin
Semifinal Winners - 2:00 p.m.