For the first time in league history, the men’s hockey team has not made it to the first round of the NESCAC tournament. In a final grab for ranking points last weekend, the men’s hockey team was defeated by Tufts and Connecticut College, dropping the team to ninth in the NESCAC and effectively eliminating the Polar Bears from the tournament.
Due to the extreme parity of the NESCAC league, only one win separated the league’s second and seventh-place teams, while a one-point difference prevented the Polar Bears from qualifying for the tournament.
“The league has to be respected every weekend,” said Head Coach Jamie Dumont. “If you don’t get points [in the beginning], it’s very difficult to get points at the end of the year because everyone is vying for playoffs. With 18 league games, points in November are just as important as points from [the last weekend].”
Since the beginning of the season, the Polar Bears were committed to being the most physically fit team in the league. In the preseason, the team’s seniors redesigned former captains’ practices to emphasize conditioning and add structure to drill work and scrimmages.
“It gave us the chance to do some more constructive activities when we’re on the ice and not just goof around,” said Spencer Antunez ’18. “[It] was a huge improvement over the four years that I’ve been here.”
“This team, without question, was the hardest working team I’ve ever been associated with [at] Bowdoin,” Dumont said. “Their commitment, their character, [it’s] all outstanding.”
Despite the team’s emphasis on conditioning and the technical aspects of the game, sometimes games were swayed by chance.
“Sometimes it’s high scoring, sometimes it’s not. It’s just the nature of the game,” said Antunez. “It’s the way the puck’s rolling that day or the way the ice is tilted.”
Still, Antunez said the team allowed chances to slip away from it.
“Sometimes we’d come out slow and the other team would smell blood and jump right on that,” he said. “Then there were a couple times where we started off and played this team we knew we could play and we could get a little complacent.”
Dumont agreed with Antunez and believes that the team’s consistency on offense may have played a factor in its failure to make postseason play. The Polar Bears lost four games by a one-goal margin.
“I think the big thing is we just struggled to convert offensively, hence scoring goals. We just didn’t have enough nights where we had consistent production,” he said. “When we needed to get goals, we just couldn’t find a way to execute.”
Even though he ends his second year as head coach on a disappointing note, Dumont looks forward to the talent in the incoming first-year class.
“My biggest thing is anytime a team comes into our building, we want to [be] really difficult to play against,” said Dumont. “We’ll be young again next year. We have a good rising senior class, [and] we have a really good [first-year] class coming in. It’ll be a little learning on the go, but we [will have] to make sure we bear down offensively when we get the chance.”
Antunez, too, has hope for the future of the program.
“[The seniors] know what it’s like to be a winning team,” said Antunez. “We [saw] glimpses of it this year. We just hope we left [some] tips that every class picked up on, so they know it’s in that room. It’s just a matter of finding it within all those guys.”