WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams men's hockey team (12-5-2) put forth a strong effort in the third period, but a goal from Trinity College (11-4-3) forward Chris Menard with less than six minutes remaining put the game out of reach for the Ephs.
Spotting Trinity a 2-0 lead after two periods, forward Peter Mistretta scored at the start of the third frame to narrow the deficit to 2-1. With 5:36 left in regulation, however, Menard put the nail in the coffin with a wrist shot from the right circle with a defender on him that put the Bantams up for good.
"I thought in the third period that we came out, scored early, guys worked hard, they battled, but unfortunately they got that goal with five minutes to go," said coach Bill Kangas after the game.
The Ephs had their hands full with the Bantams on Friday night despite entering the contest on a four-game winning streak. Both offenses battled hard to get on the board in the first period, but Trinity netminder Benjamin Coulthard and Eph goaltender Sean Dougherty, two of the top goaltenders in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, kept the game scoreless.
Trinity's best chance to score came seven minutes into the action after a Williams turnover placed the puck on the stick of a Trinity forward in front of the net. The Bantam player deked to his right and flicked the puck on goal, but Dougherty made a sprawling save followed by a pad save on the rebound attempt to deny the chance.
Dougherty finished with 33 saves on 36 shots in 58:28 minutes of play, while Coulthard stopped 35 of 36 Ephs shots in 60 minutes of play.
Less than two minutes later, the Ephs got a chance of their own on a one-time attempt from Evan Dugdale from the left circle off a nice feed from co-captain Mark Lyons. Coulthard was up to the task, however, denying Dugdale with a pad save to keep the game scoreless.
Both sides had a handful of chances in the second half of the period, but neither side could find the net as the period ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
The Bantam offense came alive in the second period, however, scoring two goals just 40 seconds apart to jump out to a 2-0 advantage. Trinity's first goal came two minutes after a golden scoring opportunity for the Ephs and forward Alex DeBaere, who received a pass in front of the net from linesmate Matt Werner and ripped a wrist shot from point-blank range.
DeBaere's shot clanged off the top left crossbar, however, and the Trinity offense took advantage on the counterattack to get on the board at the 10:30 mark of the frame. Scoring for the Bantams was forward Samuel Kane, who skated up the left side and fired a wrist shot with a Williams defender on him that snuck past Dougherty's pads to give Trinity a 1-0 advantage.
Forty seconds later an Eph turnover in the neutral zone gave Trinity a 2-on-1 opportunity in the offensive zone. Forward Tim Shea jumped on the chance, skating up the right side of the neutral zone and finding linesmate Charlie Mullan in front of the net. Mullan did the rest, deking to his left and flipping a wrist shot past Dougherty to extend the Bantam lead to 2-0.
The Ephs fought hard to narrow the deficit and got a flurry of chances at the four-minute mark of the period, but none found the net as the score remained 2-0 heading into the final period.
Williams brought this momentum into the third period and came out determined to narrow the deficit. Peter Mistretta obliged his squad just two minutes into the frame with his 14th goal of the season to bring the Ephs back to life. After Dugdale won a battle for the puck in the right corner of the offensive zone, Mistretta swooped in, carried it toward the net and maneuvered around Coulthard to bring the score to 2-1.
Spurred on by Mistretta's goal, the Ephs turned up the pressure in the offensive zone. A Trinity penalty with 11 minutes remaining gave Williams a great chance to tie the score, but a wrist shot from Mike Brofft deflected off the crossbar and the Bantams remained in the lead.
With 5:36 left in regulation, Menard put the game out of reach when he deked a Williams defender and beat Dougherty with a wrist shot to give his team a 3-1 advantage.
"I thought we played 40 really good minutes, probably the best in the third, but that's kind of how we have to be able to play no matter what happens," Kangas said. "You've got to be ready to play."
The Ephs will have to bring their A-game on Saturday afternoon as they take on NESCAC rival Wesleyan University (9-8-2) at Lansing Chapman Rink. Game time is 3 p.m.