Men's hockey faces Amherst in playoffs
Most teams don't want to lose. However, men's hockey head coach Terry
Meagher asserted that last weekend's losses were, in fact, exactly what
his team needed.
"[Hamilton and Colby] were very good tests; that's what you want-games
like that in your last weeks of the regular season," he said.
The Bears split the last pair of games in the 2001-2002 season, and head
into the playoffs 17-3-3 overall. Their 14-2-3 league record placed them
at second in NESCAC season-end standings.
After a rough loss to Colby on February 9, the men turned their practice
focus inward, realigning themselves as a team and readying for Amherst
and Hamilton. The focus worked last Friday, when the Bears squeezed eight
goals out of the Jeffs for an 8-2 victory.
"We rebounded really well after the Colby game. We paid attention
to fundamentals, and we were much more disciplined as a team," Meagher
said. "We put things in perspective: maybe [against Colby] we hadn't
played the game we were capable of, but that was the first time in the
context of season, and we had been doing a lot of good things too."
At 11:28 in the first period, Albert Mayer '03 put the first Bowdoin
goal on the board, and it wouldn't be long before a pair of Sean Starke
'03 goals put the Bears up 3-0 going into the second.
Mike Carosi's pass found fellow senior Bill Busch out front, who backhanded
the puck past Jeff goaltender Justin Jagher. Andy McNerney '02 and Chad
Hart '03 both scored within the 13th minute to give the Bears the biggest
margin they'd see: 6-0.
The Jeffs answered at the end of the second period, as Dave Moore beat
sophomore goaltender Mike Healey for a 6-1 score. The third frame saw
another Amherst goal, from Scott Aldrich at 12:11, but goals from sophomores
Marty Brisebois and Mike Stevens capped the 8-2 Bowdoin win.
Healey turned away 21 in the game, while Jagher saved 29 Bear attempts.
"Michael made some key saves," Meagher said.
When Hamilton visited Dayton last Saturday, the outcome was a different
story. The Bears fought their way through a back-and-forth game that needed
overtime for Continental Kevin Audit to break a 3-3 tie.
Juniors Kevin Castonguay, Adam Mantin, and Ryan Seymour netted goals
for the Bears, but they wound up on the losing end of a 3-4 score.
"[Hamilton is] a very good team," Meagher said. "It was
just a good hockey game," he said. "We were playing very well
defensively; both teams were technically very sound.
"We had some fundamental breakdowns that should never happen in
a game," he added. "We let it go too far. That was the tough
part of the weekend-it was like a playoff game, and we learned that breakdowns
are going to cost you."
The Bears face off with Amherst for the second time in two weeks tomorrow
in the first round of NESCAC playoffs. "We've had the whole week
to prepare for an opponent we've just seen; that's fresh in our minds,"
Meagher said. "The challenge is to find that balance, to maintain
what we do well and not overanalyze."
Despite his team's 8-2 margin over the Jeffs last Saturday, Meagher isn't
overconfident. "I go into every game with the feeling that if we
play our game, we'll be competitive. It comes down to execution and mental
preparedness and good goaltending."
He has a lot of faith that his men's performance over the course of the
season will serve them well in the playoffs and beyond. "I'm very
proud of this team," he said. "They've handled themselves on
trips, been good citizens on campus...
"I'm a firm believer that your team is a product of your leadership,"
he added. "The senior class's leadership is so important; they do
a great job of keeping the team on an even keel."
The Bears can count on a reliable goaltender as their last line of defense
in playoff games, too. According to Meagher, Healey's play in net has
been steady, even in the face of injury. "He went into the first
game injured and played through it, then took a hard hit in the Hamilton
game," he said.
First year Nathan Riddle, hit in the Colby game on February 12, is out
for the remainder of the year with knee problems. "It's a big loss;
he quiets the game so well," Meagher said. "He's very important
to us, and it's hard because it was a joy for a lot of people to watch
While past games and performances are a major consideration in postseason
preparation, tomorrow is a fresh start for the Bears.
"It's a new season-nothing that happened prior matters anymore," Meagher said.