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Contact: William Sodoma
Date: March 4, 2011
WATERVILLE, Maine --- After knocking off eight-time New England Small College Athletic Conference champion Middlebury College last Saturday, the Colby College men's hockey team will be one of four teams looking for a first-ever championship when the league semifinals are played Saturday at Williams College.
Williams, the second seed, and eighth-seeded Wesleyan University will start the day off at 1 p.m., while the sixth-seeded Mules play rival and fifth-seeded Bowdoin College at 4 p.m. The winners of the two games will meet for the NESCAC title on Sunday at 2 p.m., with the winner getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. All three games will be Webcast at http://www.teamline.cc/sport_schedule?teamcode=0126&eventcode=25
Colby comes into the weekend as the hottest team in the NESCAC after starting the season at 2-8-1. The Mules are in a 10-2-1 stretch to put their overall record at 12-10-2.
Junior forward Mike Doherty (8 goals, 20 assists) was named to the All-NESCAC team Thursday for the Mules. Senior captain Billy Crinnion (4 goals, 19 assists), senior forward Wil Hartigan (10 goals, 10 assists), junior defensemen Tom McGinn (10 goals, 5 assists), sophomore defensemen Scott Harff (6 goals, 8 assists), sophomore forward Nick Kondiles (2 goals, 12 assists), sophomore forward Spike Smigelski (9 goals, 4 assists), and senior forward Karl Burns (5 goals, 7 assists) are other leading scorers.
Senior goaltender Cody McKinney made his 40th career victory a memorable one with the win against Middlebury last Saturday. He has 11 wins this season and a 2.85 goals against average.
Special teams could play a big role in Saturday's game against the Polar Bears. Bowdoin is first in the league in both the power play (33.6 percent) and the penalty kill (87.2 percent). Colby also is stingy on the penalty kill and ranks third at 84.7. Williams is the only other NESCAC team above 20 percent on the power play.
The Polar Bears (16-7-1) had been in first place in the league for part of the year, but had an 0-4-1 streak from January 29 to February 12. Bowdoin did rebound and has won three straight games, including last Saturday's 4-3 overtime win over Amherst in a quarterfinal game.
Sophomore forward Daniel Weiniger has nine power play goals and leads the Polar Bears in scoring with 18 goals and 21 assists. Senior defensemen Kyle Shearer-Hardy has a team-best 25 assists to go along with nine goals (5 power play). Jeff Fanning also has nine power play goals and is third in scoring with 19 goals and six assists.
Williams (15-7-3) had a 7-0-1 start to the season, but had a rough January which included road losses at Bowdoin (3-2) and Colby (6-3). Junior goaltender Ryan Purdy leads the league in goals against average (2.15), while Matt Masucci has a team-best 13 goals.
Wesleyan (10-11-3) shocked top-seeded Hamilton last Saturday to earn their first-ever NESCAC tourney victory. The Cardinals are 4-37-6 all-time against Williams.
2011 NESCAC Men's Hockey Championship
Quarterfinals, Feb. 26
No. 8 Wesleyan 5, No. 1 Hamilton 2
No. 2 Williams 4, No. 7 Trinity 3
No. 6 Colby 2, No. 3 Middlebury 1
No. 5 Bowdoin 4, No. 4 Amherst 3, OT
Semifinals, March 5 at Williams
Wesleyan at Williams, 1 p.m.
Colby vs. Bowdoin, 4 p.m.
Championship, March 6 at Williams
Semifinal winners, 2 p.m.