WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Matt Doyle's third period redirect goal off of Frank Mork's shot from the point allowed for the Ephs to remain atop the NESCAC standings with a 3-2 win against a very good Wesleyan opponent.
The 1st place Ephs (8-1-2, 6-0-2 NESCAC) took to the ice at home for the first time in the New Year in yet another key NESCAC matchup against Little Three rival, Wesleyan University (7-3-1, 2-3-0 NESCAC).
As expected in any Little Three contest, both teams came out of the locker room ready and aggressive with several minutes of fast paced hockey.
The first real scoring chance of the game took place for Williams just over six minutes into the game at the hands of junior forward, Craig Kitto. Freshman linemate, George Hunkele, received a breakout pass out of the defensive zone and brought the puck down the left wing and into the offensive zone where he found Kitto streaking en route to the net. Kitto made a dash for the net and nearly scored while diving across the crease but lost control of the puck before he could finish on the scoring chance.
Later in the period Hunkele again found Kitto all alone at the top of the slot. Kitto fired a one-timer on net but freshman Wesleyan goaltender, Dawson Sprigings, ate the shot up with his chest.
Sprigings was phenomenal in goal for the Cardinals in the first period, stopping each and every shot he faced from a relentless arsenal of Williams shots.
With only six minutes remaining in the period, freshman forward, Tyler Young, rang a wrist shot off the post and into the corner of the offensive zone that beat Sprigings over his right shoulder and nearly found its way into the top left corner of the net.
After twenty minutes of hockey, neither team found the back of the net and both teams headed into the intermission with the score still standing at 0-0.
Early on in the second period, Williams found themselves down a man on a shorthanded situation. Star junior goalie, Sean Dougherty, was lights out during the course of the man down situation, stopping an array of one-timers from a persistent Wesleyan attack. Dougherty made several highlight saves sliding across the crease to put a halt to Wesleyan one-timer shots.
The first goal of the game took place at the 11:35 mark in an unassisted effort during a four on four situation at the hands of Williams senior captain, Paul Steinig. Steinig won the draw in the Wesleyan end of the ice, took a couple of strides toward the net and shoved the puck five-hole through Sprigings legs for his second goal of the season to put his team up by one goal.
Williams nearly made it into the second intermission with a 1-0 lead right up until the 19:20 mark where Wesleyan scored a goal of their own to knot up the score at 1-1. Senior captain, Keith Buehler, batted the puck out of the air after a Dougherty save with his stick and into the back of the net. Buehler's goal helped him reach the precious 100-point milestone during his time as a Wesleyan Cardinal.
The remaining forty seconds in the period were scoreless and both teams were tied at one apiece after two periods of play.
The Ephs did not wait to make the score 2-1 with a beautiful goal by freshman defenseman, Frank Mork. Mork rushed the puck up all the way from the defensive zone down the left wing and in close to the net where he leaned on a Wesleyan defender and sniped a wrist shot into the top right corner just under the crossbar. Time of the goal was 4:11; the go-ahead goal was unassisted.
Just over two minutes following the go-ahead goal, Williams senior forward, Matt Doyle scored on a deflection out front. After a clean faceoff win back to Mork at the point by sophomore forward, Matt Werner, Mork fired the puck around the boards and behind the net where Tyler Young met and received the pass. Young curled around the net after seizing possession and passed the puck back to Mork at the point. Mork proceeded to fire a shot on net where Doyle was well-positioned out front for the redirect to extend the lead to 3-1. Time of the goal was 6:15 with assists being awarded to Young and Mork.
The Ephs' 3-1 lead was cut in half when they surrendered a goal while shorthanded. Wesleyan created an opening out in front of the net after great puck movement around the perimeter. Freshman James Kline scored on a tap in finish after receiving a cross-ice pass from junior forward, James Albrecht. Time of the goal was 11:37 with assists being handed out to forwards Albrecht and Elliot Vorel.
The final minutes played out with strong defensive play from the Ephs in their zone accompanied by more great play from Dougherty. The final buzzer sounded and the home team Ephs picked up yet another conference win to remain unbeaten in NESCAC play.
Williams men's head hockey coach, Bill Kangas, was thrilled with his team's play against Wesleyan, "Last game all four goals were produced by one line; tonight we were able to generate points from other lines with a balanced attack and that's big for us. It's tough not to have many days to prepare but we played a great overall game against a tough Wesleyan opponent. We have a little time to rest and we're back at it again tomorrow against another good opponent in Johnson and Wales."
Williams heads down to Providence, RI, tomorrow to play Johnson and Whales (10-3, 3-2) at 1:45 pm.