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Contact: William Sodoma
Date: March 7, 2008
WATERVILLE, Maine --- Colby College has been in the New England Small College Athletic Conference Men's Hockey Championship semifinal round for six of the past eight years, but the Mules have never hosted a league final four or advanced to the title game.
The Mules took care of one of those challenges by finishing in first in the NESCAC and are hosting the league semifinals and championship game this Saturday and Sunday at Alfond Rink. The top-seeded Mules will play sixth-seeded Trinity College in a 1 p.m. semifinal, while second-seeded Middlebury College takes on fourth-seeded Amherst in the other game at 4 p.m. The championship game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday and the winner gets an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
All three games this weekend can be viewed on D3cast.com at http://www.d3cast.com/index.php
Getting to the title game on Sunday is the first step for the Mules (15-8-1), who have a veteran team with three players with 100 career points or more. Senior forward T.J. Kelley leads the NESCAC in scoring with 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points. Kelley has 56 goals and 70 assists for 126 career points.
The Mules got a big boost last Saturday when Josh Reber returned to the lineup after missing five games with an injury. He had one goal and one assist in the Mules' 4-1 quarterfinal win over Wesleyan University. Reber, despite missing the games, still ranks second to Kelley in the league in scoring with 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points. Reber is Colby's active career scoring leader with 34 goals and 98 assists for 132 points.
Colby senior defensemen Arthur Fritch and Joe Rothwell will need to be on top of their games as well this weekend. Fritch, an All-American last year, is third on the Mules in scoring with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points and has 32 goals and 83 assists for 115 career points. Fritch's point total and assist total are both Colby records for defensemen. Meanwhile, Rothwell (4 goals, 12 assists) has 26 goals and 58 assists for 84 career points.
Michael Belliveau (5 goals, 11 assists), Billy Crinnion (6 goals, 7 assists), Wil Hartigan (4 goals, 7 assists), Mike Butler (6 goals, 4 assists), captain Ryan Chrenek (3 goals, 7 assists), and Bobby Sullivan (4 goals, 5 assists) are other top scorers for Colby.
First-year goalie Cody McKinney has allowed just 15 goals in the last 11 games and now ranks second in the league in goals against average (2.22) and fourth in save percentage (.923). McKinney has a 15-6-1 record and has played more minutes than any NESCAC goalie this season.
Colby ranks first in the conference in scoring defense (2.42 goals allowed) and the offense is third (3.50) behind Bowdoin College and Middlebury. The Mules also rank second on the power play (24.4 percent) to Bowdoin and on the penalty kill (86.3 percent) to Trinity.
While Trinity's penalty kill is ranked first at 87 percent, the Bantams (13-10-2) are eighth on the power play (13.7 percent). Trinity does not have a scorer with 20 points or more, but the Bantams still managed a 5-2 quarterfinal round victory at Bowdoin last Saturday. That victory avenged a 7-1 home defeat by the Polar Bears just a few weeks ago.
Matthew Crum (9 goals, 7 assists), Ryan Masucci (5 goals, 11 assists), and Daniel Maturi (5 goals, 9 assists) are scoring leaders for Trinity. The Bantams took a 2-1 win over Colby in Hartford just a few weeks ago and also own a 4-1 home win over Middlebury.
Middlebury (17-6-2) always has to be considered a favorite in the tourney based on past experience. The Panthers have won the last four NESCAC titles and have earned seven of the eight titles since the league started the playoff format in 2000.
Senior defensemen Tom Maldonado leads the Panthers in scoring with nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points. Mickey Gilchrist (10 goals, 13 assists), Jamie McKenna (7 goals, 14 assists), and Chaz Svoboda (6 goals, 13 assists) are other top scorers.
Amherst (14-8-3) got into the semifinal round after taking a 3-2 overtime win against Connecticut College in a league quarterfinal game. Joel Covelli leads the Lord Jeffs in scoring with 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points.