The Middlebury men's hockey team, the fourth seed in the NESCAC Tournament, will play host to Bowdoin for a NESCAC Quarterfinal game on Saturday, March 1st. The Panthers and the Polar Bears will face-off at 4:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to next weekend's NESCAC Championship weekend.
For the first time since 2005, Trinity has earned the top seed and home ice advantage throughout the 2014 NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The Bantams are in search of their third conference crown when quarterfinal round action commences on Saturday. Amherst, Williams and Middlebury also earned the right to host the other three quarterfinal contests. The highest remaining seed following the weekend will host both semifinals and the final from March 8-9. This year’s champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Trinity (20-4-0, 15-3-0 NESCAC) clinched the top seed with a series sweep of Wesleyan in the last weekend of the regular season. The Bantams enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 13 of their 14 games down the stretch. Trinity possesses a lethal offense that has registered 108 goals and scored three or more goals in 18 games, all of which resulted in victories. Trinity looks to hoist the NESCAC trophy for the first time since 2008 when it earned the crown as a No. 6 seed. Its other conference title was won in 2003.
If the Bantams hope to advance in the tournament, they will have to face eighth-seeded Wesleyan (11-11-2, 6-11-2 NESCAC) for the third time in nine days after Trinity defeated the Cardinals by the scores of 2-0 and 8-5. Wesleyan also has a solid offense, averaging 3.33 goals per game. The Cardinals raced out to a 7-2-1 record to start the season, but went 1-6-1 in the next eight games. They picked up critical wins down the stretch against Williams, Middlebury and Colby to hang on for the final playoff spot. Wesleyan looks to play in its second semifinal, as its previous semifinal appearance came in a 3-2 loss to Williams in 2011. The only previous championship meeting between the squads came in the quarterfinal round last season with Trinity prevailing, 5-4, in overtime.
Amherst (14-7-3, 12-4-2 NESCAC) locked up the second seed by defeating Williams, 4-1, in the final game of the regular season. The Lord Jeffs opened the season with a five-game winning streak and wrapped up the campaign 5-1-2 to earn its 14th NESCAC Championship berth. Hosting a quarterfinal game will help Amherst’s effort to make its sixth overall semifinal appearance, as it has gone 7-1-2 at home compared to posting a 6-6-1 road mark. Amherst won two titles in 2009 and 2012. The Lord Jeffs will face seventh-seeded Connecticut College (9-13-2, 8-9-1 NESCAC) on Saturday. The Camels have been one of the hottest teams in the league during the second half of the season. Connecticut College bounced back from a 1-8-0 start to go 5-1-1 in February courtesy of hot goaltending and timely scoring to get claim its first NESCAC Championship berth since 2009. The Camels tied for sixth place in the standings along with Colby. Since the teams split the season series and had the same number of conference wins, records against the top four teams were compared. The Mules went2-5-1 against Trinity, Amherst, Williams and Middlebury, while Connecticut College went 1-6-1. The Camels are searching for their first semifinal appearance in four championship appearances. Amherst defeated Connecticut College, 4-2, on Jan. 17, but the teams skated to a 1-1 draw on Feb. 15. The Lord Jeffs won the only post-season matchup between the programs, 3-2 in overtime, in 2008.
Third-seeded Williams (14-7-3, 10-5-3 NESCAC) posted a solid 12-3-2 record in the first three months of the season, but has faltered in February going 2-4-1. The Ephs have relied on their defense throughout the season, as they have held opponents to a league-low 1.88 goals per game. Williams has appeared in each of the 14 NESCAC Championships, but is still looking for its elusive first title. Standing in the Ephs’ way will be sixth-seeded Colby (11-10-3, 8-9-1 NESCAC) in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game that saw Williams win, 2-1. The programs tied, 1-1, in the season opener for both squads, while the Mules earned a 2-1 win on Jan. 24 to take the season series. Despite playing in eight conference semifinal rounds, Colby is still looking for its first final appearance. The Mules have also only appeared in one semifinal game since 2009. The post-season series record is deadlocked at 2-2.
One year after meeting in the conference semifinals for the second straight year, fourth-seeded Middlebury (11-10-3, 9-7-2 NESCAC) and fifth-seeded Bowdoin (14-8-2, 9-8-1 NESCAC) will square off in this year’s quarterfinals. The Panthers claimed the fourth seed by defeating Hamilton, 5-2, in the regular season finale. Middlebury climbed up the standings over the final two weekends by going 1-0-1 versus Williams and picking up a win over Amherst to find itself in control of its destiny to host a quarterfinal game heading into the final game. In the 14-year history of the NESCAC Championship, the Panthers have advanced to the finals 12 times and own eight league titles. Bowdoin has had several streaks of success throughout the season, as it ranks second in the league in scoring at 3.83 goals per game. The Polar Bears captured their first league championship last year after defeating Williams, 2-1. Bowdoin looks to extend its semifinal appearance streak to five, while having appeared in nine overall semifinal games. Both meetings this season went into overtime, as the first game resulted in a 2-2 tie and Bowdoin came out on top, 5-4, in the rematch. The programs have met six times in the post-season with Middlebury owning a 5-1 record over the Polar Bears.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
2014 NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship
Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 1 (at Higher Seeds)
No. 8 Wesleyan at No. 1 Trinity – 3:00 p.m.
No. 7 Conn. College at No. 2 Amherst – 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 Colby at No. 3 Williams – 4:30 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Middlebury - 4:00 p.m.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 8 (at Highest Remaining Seed)
1:00 p.m. | 4:00 p.m.
Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed
Remaining Quarterfinal Winners
Championship – Sunday, March 9 - 2:00 p.m.