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Men’s hockey reflects on early exit from playoffs

March 4, 2022

courtesy of Brian Beard/Bowdoin Athletics
LOTS TO LEARN: The men’s hockey team suffered an unexpected first-round loss at home to Connecticut College this past Friday. Despite the loss, players were proud of their first complete season in two years and especially excited to have fans back in Watson Arena to cheer them on.

After making it to the first round of the NESCAC Championships, the men’s hockey team concluded its season with a record of 8-10-4 (8-7-3 NESCAC). The team’s season ended prematurely in a surprising 4-1 loss to Connecticut College—the same team the Polar Bears bested 3-2 just one month prior.

“This loss was honestly a hodgepodge of different issues that we’ve had throughout the year,” Joe Alexander ’23, Bowdoin’s sole goal scorer against Conn. College, said. “[But] I think during the second period, we gave it a really solid effort, generating a lot of offense, moving the puck quickly to try and catch them off balance.”

A slow start foreshadowed the disappointing result, according to standout Patrick Callahan ’24.

“I think maybe we were a little low energy,” Callahan said. “[We were] a little bit run down from midterms … But still, it’s important to be ready to play at the beginning of the game and not halfway through.”

It’s been a season fraught with difficulty. Due to Covid-19-related barriers, the first-years and sophomores on the team had yet to play a collegiate level game at the beginning of this season. Additionally, there were multiple game cancellations, and for much of the season, the team played without spectators to boost morale.

Despite these obstacles, the men’s hockey team was able to rise to the occasion and embark on a three-game winning streak in February. With poignant moments of collaborative teamwork, the team maintained a collective drive that shapes both past and future seasons.

“It’s a group that really, really wants to win and is really committed to making a difference on the ice and in the community,” Alexander said.

The group worked at staying motivated and connected on the journey to NESCACs.

“We initiated some team mantras that we can kind of hold ourselves to,” Alexander said. “We put up catchphrases [in the locker room] and one was one percent better each day.’ One percent each day adds up … That mantra helped us realize how important each practice was because it all contributes to the goal of getting better and showing improvement throughout the year.”

Recovering from the sting of this final game, the Polar Bears plan on returning next season with a vengeance. The players look toward the future season with optimism and a sense of purpose.

“I think everybody just needs to have the same goal in mind,” Callahan said. “Oftentimes with a team, there’s a lot of individual desires, rather than the team desires. For us this year, most of the time we were on the same page, and the guys were pretty focused on the team as a whole rather than their individual success. I think that worked for us pretty well.”

The players aim to focus on a set of clear goals as well as maintain high expectations for next season.

“I think being able to establish the way we play early on in the game, so that we’re not chasing, is a very, very huge goal for us,” Alexander said. “Another is to, even when things are kind of going poorly, remain unified as a team.”

“Confidence all together would be a big improvement for everybody,” Callahan said. “Most of us will have already had at least one college season under their belt. We have pretty high expectations for our team as far as winning games and going far in the playoffs next year.”

Though the season ended with a loss, both Alexander and Callahan are proud of their team this past winter, on and off the ice. The large turnout of students at the later home games was especially galvanizing for the team’s morale.

“It meant a lot to all the guys on our team that people came and supported us [on game day],” Callahan said. “We are really appreciative of that.”

The players are confident that they gave the season their best shot, applying the best of their abilities to their collective goals.

“I’m proud of [the season],” Callahan said. “Even more than just success as far as winning, I think a lot of guys grew in a lot of ways. Coming in, we had a slow start. I personally had a slow start, but … everybody was supportive the entire year. It’s easy to play for a team and want to play for a team like this. So I’m pretty proud of everything that happened this year.”


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