The men's ice hockey team will continue to fight for the top playoff spot on the road this weekend against conference opponents Amherst and Hamilton.

"We are still in first place, but we have Hamilton and Amherst breathing right down our necks," said senior captain Kyle Shearer-Hardy. "These last three weekends of the season will all be important, but the Amherst and Trinity games could be the deciding factor in whether or not we host NESCAC playoffs again this season."

The Polar Bears (13-4, 9-4 NESCAC) will face off against the Lord Jeffs (8-6-4, 6-4-3 NESCAC) Friday night.

"We will be focused on putting Amherst on their heels in the first period," said senior captain Kit Smith. "If we are going to be successful in the stretch run coming up, we need to be consistent with our play and take control of games from the beginning, both at home and on the road."

The team will continue west to play the Continentals (10-6-2, 7-4-2 NESCAC) on Saturday.

Coach Terry Meagher knows the importance of both road games and these games down the stretch.

"Its important to win the fifth period of the weekend for an away trip," he said. "I've felt that teams down the stretch are either propelled or exposed by the challenge."

The Polar Bears are certainly ready to take on the challenge after this past weekend.

On Friday night, Bowdoin took on then-number-one Williams at home. The team unveiled its new third jerseys for the game. Personalized with their names, the shirts were white with black stripes around the waist and arms, and yellow Bowdoin sun patches on the shoulders.

The new jerseys were designed by Hardy and senior Brendan Reich, and were a throwback to designs that were used by Bowdoin hockey squads in the 1960s.

Williams did come out strong and managed to strike first from a scramble in front of the Bowdoin net. Bowdoin responded a few minutes later on a power play when a rebound of a shot from the slot by Smith was one-timed into the back of the net by Jeff Fanning '11.

Starting off the second period with a bang, Hardy took the puck from face-off into the zone, played it off the wall a couple times and in to Daniel Weiniger '13 who blasted the puck over the goalies left shoulder nine seconds into the period.

Bowdoin struck again after a long period of power play defending, complemented by some beautiful glove saves by Steve Messina '14—who had 23 saves on the night—when Hardy played it up from the goal line to Harry Matheson '14.

Matheson brought the puck into the zone on the far left side, shook a Williams defender and was able to get off a shot that was deflected across the goal to where Jordan Lalor '12 was waiting to bury it and put the Polar Bears up 3-1.

Williams did manage to finally take advantage of a power play and score in the third period, but they were unable to find an equalizer and Bowdoin won 3-2.

"The Williams victory was huge," said Hardy. "But it proved just how competitive the NESCAC is this season."

The next day Bowdoin played rival Middlebury.

After a scoreless first period, the Panthers struck first in the second period when an unsecured puck in the front of the net resulted in Richard Nerland '12 being out of position and unable to return before Middlebury was able to put a shot on net and score.

In a bout of 4-4 hockey that followed immediately after that goal, Hardy intercepted the puck and passed out from the Bowdoin zone to Matheson on the left side.

He skated it into Middlebury's zone and blasted it past the goalie to tie the game at 1-1.

The Panthers responded a few minutes later with a slap shot from the blue line near the end of a power play that managed to sneak past Nerland.

Following Middlebury tripping and cross-checking penalties, Bowdoin took advantage of the 5-3 situation when Hardy, at the top of the slot, passed it to Ollie Koo '14, who gave it right back to him. Hardy buried the one-timer slap shot in the back of the net to tie the game.

The period ended with Middlebury scoring again off of a rebound that a waiting Panther was able to put past a diving Nerland, who had 29 saves.

The third period saw only one goal, from Middlebury that put them up 4-2 to end the game.

"The loss to Middlebury was tough to swallow," said Smith. "But I think that our level of play is getting better and better."

The team did come back to practice this week ready to improve.

"Players came back lively and ensured that practice had a sense of purpose and that is indicative of healthy leadership," said Meagher. "We're the hunted right now with a slim lead over everybody. We have a tough road weekend coming up; we haven't clinched a playoff spot yet, and we want to worry about that first."

"The win against a tough Williams team showed us what we are capable of when we put 60 minutes of hockey together," added Smith. "If we can do that every game, the outcome will take care of itself."