WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Entering the third period locked in a 1-1 tie, the Williams Men's Hockey team (8-2-1) exploded for five goals in the final twelve minutes to down the Skidmore Thoroughbreds (7-7-2) in non-conference play on Friday afternoon.
With thirteen minutes remaining in the game, forwards Cody Skinner '14 and Nick Anderson '14 notched back-to-back goals just forty seconds apart to catapult the Ephs to a 3-1 lead.
The Thoroughbreds responded with a power play goal with five minutes to go to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Eph offense proved just too much to handle. Zander Masucci '16 scored with three minutes remaning, John Wickman '13 flicked in an empty net goal at the one-minute mark, and Matt Werner '16 added one more goal for good measure with just thirteen seconds on the clock to give the Ephs a commanding 6-2 victory.
The Ephs have now won seven of their last eight contests and have not lost since November.
"In the third period, it's anybody's game," said Head Coach Bill Kangas after the game. "That's the key, is who gets the next [goal]. We were able to get that goal and just kept working, kept pressing... I thought we responded well."
Despite the Ephs' scoring outburst in the final period, the first two periods featured a largely defensive battle as both sides struggled to find the net.
While they had no goals to show for it, the Williams offense came out strong in the first period, peppering Skidmore goaltender Ben Freiberg with a number of quality shots. Just two minutes into the action, the Ephs almost got on the board when the starting line of Matt Doyle '14, Paul Steinig '15, and Peter Mistretta '15 tried to poke in a free puck during a scrum in front of the net. Freiberg covered the puck just in time, however, and play was stopped.
In the latter half of the first period, the Thoroughbreds made their response. At the tail end of a Williams power play, forward Brad Schuler intercepted a stray pass in the Eph offensive zone and flipped the puck to forward Vlad Gavrik. Gavrik did the rest, taking the puck coast to coast and flicking a wrist shot on net with a defender on him. The puck sailed towards Dougherty and deflected off the top of his glove into the net to put Skidmore up 1-0 after one period.
Skidmore took their momentum into the second period, opening the frame with a flurry of shots on Dougherty from close range. The Eph defense held strong, however, selling out to block several of these shots and keep the Thoroughbreds from extending their lead.
With eight minutes remaining in the period, Williams was finally able to turn its strong defensive effort into offense. Mistretta started the scoring opportunity by finding Mark Lyons '13 in the right corner of the offensive zone. Lyons made a sharp pass back to defensemanTaylor Carmola '16 at the blue line, and Carmola fired a wrist shot that slipped past Freiberg's glove to knot the score at 1-1.
The Ephs had several strong opportunities to take the lead late in the second, but Freiberg made a series of nice saves to keep the game tied heading into the final frame.
After eight minutes of back-and-forth play to start the third period, Skinner started the offensive onslaught with a great individual effort to break the tie. After freeing the puck from the defensive boards, defenseman David Jarrett '15 flipped a long pass down the ice which Skinner tracked down on the heels of a Thoroughbred defenseman. Skinner won the puck in the left corner, skated to the middle of the zone and flicked a wrist shot past Freiberg to put the Ephs up 2-1.
Just forty seconds later, Mistretta fired a shot from the right side of the offensive zone that deflected off Freiberg's pad in front of the net. Anderson pounced on the open puck and tapped it in, extending the Eph lead to 3-1 with just twelve minutes remaining.
Responding for Skidmore on the power play was forward Tim Colvin, who tapped in a nice feed from linesmate David Limoges in front of the net to narrow the deficit to 3-2.
The Eph refused to be slowed down, however. With three minutes remaining in the action, Masucci delivered the dagger when his slap shot rocketed off the goaltender's facemask and into the net, putting Williams up 4-2.
After Wickman's empty-netter put the score at 5-2, the Ephs' fourth line added one more goal for good measure. Forward Tucker Dayton '14 made a nice move to his backhand in the offensive zone and found a charging Werner, who tapped it in for his first collegiate goal.
Throughout the offensive onslaught, the Eph defense remained firm to keep the Skidmore offense at bay. Their defensive effort was anchored by goaltender Sean Dougherty '15, who stopped 18 of 20 Thoroughbred shots in 59:51 minutes of play. Freiberg put forth a valiant effort in net for Skidmore, making 45 saves on a whopping 51 shots from the Ephs in 59:22 minutes of play.
"[Skidmore's] style of play is a little different than what we've seen, and I thought our guys did a good job communicating to each other," added Kangas. "Some of the things that we really stress late in the game are blocking shots, covering passing lanes, and I thought we did a really good job of that."
The Ephs will face a tough test on Saturday night, when they will travel to Plattsburgh, NY to take on the Plattsburgh State Cardinals (9-5-1). Game time is 7 pm.