The men's hockey team faces two important conference games as it makes a swing through Connecticut this weekend, facing off with Trinity College on Friday at 7 p.m. and Wesleyan University the following afternoon at 3 p.m.
A win at fifth-place Trinity (9-4-2 conference, 12-6-2 overall) would help solidify the Bears' position in the upper parts of the NESCAC standings, while anything besides a victory against last-place Wesleyan (3-12-0 conference, 6-12-0 overall) would be disappointing.
The team hopes to maintain its momentum after sweeping NESCAC-leading Amherst (9-3-3 conference, 14-3-3 overall) and Hamilton College (8-6-1 conference, 11-7-2 overall) last weekend, two crucial victories that vaulted the Bears back into second place in the conference.
With the weekend sweep, the team brought its conference record to 10-4-1 (13-5-1 overall), good enough to regain second place in the NESCAC standings.
Following an overtime tie and a loss the weekend before, the team had tumbled from atop the NESCAC standings into fourth place. However, a Friday night matchup with league-leading Amherst proved to be the solution to the team's struggles, as the Bears got their season back on track by outskating the Lord Jeffs 4-2.
Such a strong performance against the top team in the NESCAC conference was certainly noteworthy, and Head Coach Terry Meagher recognized the significance of the victory.
"The building was alive and the support of our students and community was special," said Meagher. "We knew we were facing a strong team with arguably the best goaltender in the nation."
"The win against Amherst was obviously very important," said Captain Colin MacCormack. "It was a close game until the third period when we scored a couple of quick goals to take control. Beating a high quality team like Amherst always provides a confidence boost."
Indeed, the confidence gained with the win over Amherst on Friday night carried over into the Bears' contest with Hamilton, as the team easily handled the Continentals 6-1 on Saturday.
Beyond confidence however, MacCormack attributed the wins to strong special team play.
"I think our special teams were exceptionally good this past weekend," said Meagher. "We were able to convert on some of our power plays and actually scored two or three shorthanded goals as well."
Coach Meagher echoed those feelings, adding that most of the teams battling at the top of the NESCAC have no lack of talent. As the season draws to a close and teams angle for positioning in the standings, two aspects of the game stand apart for Meagher: "It usually comes down to goaltending and special teams."
Without a doubt, goaltender Chris Rossi '10 has been a major part of that success, being named NESCAC Player of the Week for the week of February 8.
"Chris has played well for us recently," said MacCormack. "Whatever he may lack in stature, he surely makes up for with quickness and heart. There are few people who love to win more than Chris and when he is on his game, it inspires others to rise to the occasion."