The men's ice hockey team has made it to the final four of the NESCAC tournament and will face off against Colby in the semifinal on Saturday.

"It's a long season and you want to embrace every game but it's a real credit to this team to be in the league final four," said head coach Terry Meagher. "To be playing in the month of March is always a special time and the team should be savoring every moment of this opportunity."

The winner of Saturday's game will face either Wesleyan or tournament host Williams on Sunday. The final four lineup was determined last weekend, when three of the top four seeds were knocked out of the tournament.

"We definitely have to be focused, Wesleyan and Colby are two of the hottest teams in the league," said Meagher. "Last weekend is just another example of the parity in excellence throughout the league, they are not upsets in my mind."

The play was certainly even and well-matched last weekend when the Polar Bears traveled to Amherst to take on the Lord Jeffs in the quarterfinals.

In the first period, Amherst began the scoring six minutes in and Bowdoin was unable to convert two power play opportunities. However, Bowdoin's D-III-leading power play unit was not to be denied and five minutes into the second period senior Brendan Reich struck to even the score at one apiece. Five minutes later an Amherst player was able to poke a rebound away from Steve Messina '14 and retake the lead 2-1.

Bowdoin once again took advantage of a power play later in the period when Colin Downey '14 played the puck into the crease from the blue line. Dan Wieniger '13 skated into the scramble and dumped a no-look pass off to Harry Matheson '14, who lifted the puck over the Amherst goalie to tie the game.

Amherst also took advantage of its special teams and, mere seconds into its second power play, was able to put the puck past Messina off a deflection to take the lead 3-2 heading into the third period.

The third period began with the same hard-hitting intensity and fast-paced play that defined the game. Just after the halfway mark of the period, forward Jeff Fanning '11 was able to score following a face-off in the Amherst zone.

"Fanning scored on a shot that squeezed through traffic from about 25 feet out," said senior captain Kyle Shearer-Hardy.

The goal tied the game and with no further change of score in the period, forced overtime.

"We were tired, but very confident after tying it, we felt like we had the momentum," said Rob MacGregor '13.

The overtime period was marked by tight hockey and physicality, but neither team was able to find the net through the first 18 minutes. The excellent play of senior captain Kit Smith paid off when he stole the puck, established himself in the neutral zone and lobbed an area pass into the zone behind the Amherst defenders.

It was then that Downey swooped into the zone, gathered the puck and unloaded a shot that snuck under the cross bar, past the Amherst goalie.

"It was arguably Kit Smith's best game, he was really making continually great hockey plays," said Meagher. "Collin's goal was a direct result of a smart hockey play by Kit; that was classic and well-executed hockey."

Downey's goal not only ended the game and propelled the Polar Bears into the semifinals, but also, along with his two assists on the power plays, earned him NESCAC Co-Player of the Week honors.

"Spirits are definitely high right now," said Shearer-Hardy. "Everyone knows that we're only a few steps away from our ultimate goal, but we're going to take it one step at a time."

The Polar Bears will be in for a challenge when they face Colby on Saturday, but the team's performance over the last few weekends has certainly been confidence-boosting.

"It gives us a great deal of momentum and experience in tight games, which we are likely to be in this weekend," said MacGregor.

"The key to being ready to play is to find the balance between the excitement for the game and the quietness that lets you make hockey plays," he added. "One of the ways we were successful on Saturday is that our pulse went down late in the game and we found that balance."

This will be the second year in a row that the team will face Colby in the tournament. Last year the Polar Bears won in overtime in the quarterfinals.

"You don't need much 'firing up' when you play a team like Colby in the playoffs; it just comes naturally," said Shearer-Hardy. "Everyone knows how much tradition there is behind this rivalry and there would be no better feeling than to beat them three times in a season."

"We want to sweep them for the year," added MacGregor. "It is never hard to get excited for playing Colby, they're our rivals and we don't like them, we want to be the ones who finish them."