After closing out its regular season last weekend, the men’s hockey team (12–9–3; 6–9–3 NESCAC) is preparing for the first round of the NESCAC playoffs against Trinity College (16–7–1; 13–4–1 NESCAC) tomorrow. The Polar Bears split their final two games, falling to Tufts University (10–13–1; 7–10–1 NESCAC) 2–3 on Friday night before rebounding with a 2–0 victory over Connecticut College (5–19–0; 2–16–0 NESCAC) last Saturday.
Tufts and Bowdoin traded goals throughout Friday’s game, but the Polar Bears were unable to force overtime despite firing off seven shots on the Jumbos’ net in the game’s final minute.
Head Coach Ben Guite said that the Tufts loss was a wake-up call for the team as it looks toward the postseason.
“It hasn’t happened very often this year that our guys haven’t been all in just as far as work ethic, but Friday was not it,” Guite said. “It was a pretty stern awakening, especially when we have playoffs on the line.”
On Saturday, a scoreless deadlock against Conn. was broken late in the third period when Gabe Shipper ’26 converted on a pass from Ethan Kimball ’23 for his 10th goal of the season. Jimmy Duffy ’23 added a second goal into an empty net as time expired.
Duffy credited goaltender Alex Kozic ’24, who recorded 25 saves against Conn., as the difference-maker for the Polar Bears. Kozic’s consistency has been critical for Bowdoin’s throughout the year, Duffy said.
Bowdoin’s entire season has been marked by transition. This year has been Guite’s first with the team, and eleven members of the squad are playing in their final season with the Polar Bears.
Duffy said that Guite has brought leadership and energy to the team.
“I can say that for everybody on our team, we all want to show up to the rink every single day and compete for each other but also for [Guite],” Duffy said. “He’s such a great coach and a great leader.”
Kimball said that the seniors have made Bowdoin’s season especially meaningful and that their leadership has created a strong and supportive culture.
“We all … are pulling with each other and for each other,” Kimball said. “Coming to the rink every day has been a joy.”
This week, Bowdoin is preparing to face second-seeded Trinity in the NESCAC tournament. The Polar Bears head into the weekend as the seventh seed.
Guite said that Bowdoin is leaning into the underdog mindset as it approaches tomorrow’s game.
“[We’re] having a bit of an us-versus-the-world type of mentality,” Guite said.
Kimball echoed that entering the tournament as an underdog is motivating the team.
“[Being the underdog] removes a lot of the pressure,” Kimball said. “We can surprise a few teams and we’re going to use it to our advantage.”
Trinity defeated Bowdoin twice during the regular season by scores of 2–5 and 0–4. Four Trinity players earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors this season, and Duffy said that the Bantams have several transfers from NCAA Division I in their ranks.
Duffy added that the team is prepared to bring a physical game to Trinity to counteract the Bantams’ talented squad. He believes the Polar Bears are bigger and better-conditioned than Trinity, which will play to the team’s advantage in late-game situations.
The Polar Bears are also heading into the tournament with some momentum after Saturday’s win, while Trinity ended its regular season with two losses.
“Coming off a win and just having a little bit of extra confidence in the playoffs can always be the difference,” Duffy said.
Guite said that he expects a strong, competitive game from both sides and thinks that the Polar Bears can disrupt Trinity’s high-powered offense with strong defending.
“We’ll have to make [Trinity] earn every inch they get and know that they’ll do the same to us,” Guite said.
The Polar Bears will travel to Hartford, Conn., to take on the Bantams at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The game will be broadcast live on the Northeast Sports Network.