Men's hockey loses tough semifinal game

Contact: William Sodoma
Date: March 5, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. --- The Colby College men's hockey team once again gave Bowdoin College all it could handle for 60 minutes, but the Polar Bears won for a third straight time this year in close fashion with a 3-1 win in a New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinal Saturday at Williams College.

The Mules had lost one-goal games to the Polar Bears in last year's NESCAC quarterfinal and then dropped both regular season games this year by one score. This contest was just as close, with fifth-seeded Bowdoin (17-7-1) scoring a late goal to go up 3-1.

Colby finishes the season at 12-11-2, a stunning record given that the sixth-seeded Mules were 2-8-1 at one point this season.

Harry Matheson scored the first two goals for Bowdoin, with both assisted by Colin Downey. The Polar Bears added an insurance goal from Daniel Weiniger.

Bowdoin had a great chance with less than five minutes to go in the scoreless first period. Owen Smith threw the puck on net and Aaron O'Callahan rushed in and almost chipped in the rebound, but Colby goaltender Cody McKinney covered it up to prevent the goal.  

The game stayed deadlocked at 0-0 until well into the second period when Bowdoin tallied with about seven minutes to play. After Downey took a shot from the right circle, the puck skidded behind the net and was corralled by Matheson. The first-year forward then skated to the bottom of the left circle and slipped the puck by McKinney to give the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead.

Colby wasted no time in responding, as they evened the score at 1-1 less than a minute later. Scoring for the Mules was first-year Jack Bartlett, who got his stick on a shot from the left circle by junior Patrick Bursee and redirected it past Polar Bear goalie Steve Messina.

With a minute to go in the second period, the first-year duo of Downey and Matheson hooked up again to put the Polar Bears in front. Downey made a great individual effort on the play, as he fell to the ice but managed to reach out and poke the puck to Matheson. Matheson settled the puck at the right circle and fired a shot into the top left corner of the net, giving Bowdoin a 2-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

Colby had a great chance to tie in the first minute of the third period when junior Mike Doherty skated in on net and made a nice deke to his right, but the puck just slipped off his stick as he tried to flick it on goal.

Bowdoin also had an opportunity to score at the halfway point of the third when sophomore Rob MacGregor made a nice pass to Smith on the left side, but his scoring bid sailed past the right post and the score remained at 2-1. 

Doherty got another excellent chance to score for Colby three minutes later when the puck found its way to his stick in front of the net, but Messina made a great diving save to deny the goal.

With four minutes left in the game, Weiniger sealed the victory by netting his 19th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from senior defenseman Kyle Shearer Hardy, the sophomore forward ripped a wrist shot just under the crossbar from the right circle to give Bowdoin the 3-1 lead.

Colby had some chances to score late in the game, but Messina made several big saves to keep the Mules off the board.

Messina finished the game with 23 saves on 24 shots in 60 minutes of play, while McKinney made 25 saves on 28 shots in 58:56 minutes of play.

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