The men's hockey team never fell behind against NESCAC rival Middlebury on Saturday, swinging out to a 3-0 lead before surviving a late Panther rebuttal to win 4-2. This marks the first NESCAC championship berth since the 2010-2011 season, when the Polar Bears beat Williams, 5-2, but later vacated the trophy due to the uncovering of the team's involvement in a hazing incident.
In front of a rowdy crowd at Watson Arena, the Polar Bears controlled the puck during the first period, pressuring Middlebury's sophomore goalie Mike Peters for 11 shots, two of which slipped in. Both first period goals came at the hands of Danny Palumbo '15.
The second period began much the same way, with back and forth between the two teams before captain Daniel Weineger '13 scored to give the Polar Bears a commanding 3-0 lead. Midd responded near the end of the second with their first goal.
The third stanza to the game began with a penalty just three minutes into the start, and Bowdoin's Ollie Koo '14 capitalized on the power play to put Bowdoin ahead 4-1. The Panthers responded quickly, bringing the game within reach at 4-2.
Bowdoin's Timothy McGarry '13 was penalized twice during the match. McGarry is the Polar Bears' most penalized player in team history, and brought his career minutes spent in the box up to 242 after Saturday's game. The next closest is Kyle Shearer-Hardy '11, who from 2007-11 committed 212 minutes worth of penalties.
Despite a string of late penalties in the third period, Bowdoin put up a strong defensive effort. Goalie Max Fenkell '15 blocked 32 shots during the game, with more than half of the pucks coming at him during the third period. He blocked made three crucial stops during the power play midway through the frame and then stopped five more pucks to ensure the victory for the Polar Bears.
In a repeat of the 2011 championship game, Bowdoin will again face Williams, who toppled Trinity earlier on Saturday.
Bowdoin dominated Williams earlier this season, sweeping the Ephs across two separate matches and scoring six goals while only allowing one. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. in Sidney Watson Arena.