Last Saturday, the men’s hockey team (13–9–3; 7–9–3 NESCAC) upset second-seeded Trinity College (16–8–1; 13–5–1 NESCAC) in a 2–1 overtime victory in the NESCAC Quarterfinal. The No. 7 Polar Bears will face fifth-seeded Colby College (13–10–2; 10–7–1 NESCAC) in the semifinals tomorrow afternoon.
The victory over Trinity was Bowdoin’s first NESCAC postseason win since 2014. The Polar Bears had not bested the Bantams since 2017.
Forward Chris Brown ’23, who scored the deciding goal in overtime, said that Bowdoin had a sluggish start on Saturday but that Trinity’s opening goal in the second period galvanized the team. After going down 0–1, Brown said that the Polar Bears found consistency through set plays they rehearsed in practice the previous week.
Head Coach Ben Guite said that the team had prepared for a tough battle against Trinity.
“We talked about [the game] being a war of attrition,” he said. “You have these tiny little wins and over time, something breaks.”
Bowdoin’s first break came with under five minutes remaining in regulation, when forward Gabe Shipper ’26 converted on a long pass from forward Jesse Lycan ’24 to tie the game 1–1 and force overtime.
Brown said that momentum was in Bowdoin’s favor heading into the sudden-victory overtime period.
“You would’ve thought we were up three to one,” he said. “From the energy and positivity going on in that locker room, I think we kind of knew we’d pull it out.”
Just over four minutes into overtime, defenseman Cam Berube ’23 intercepted a Trinity pass and sent the puck across the ice to Brown, who quickly found the back of the net, lifting the Polar Bears to victory.
Goaltender Alex Kozic ’24, who recorded a season-high 46 saves Saturday, felt that defeating Trinity was especially meaningful since none of the team’s current players had ever won against the Bantams. Saturday’s win proved that Bowdoin is a changed team this season, Kozic said.
Brown believes that the victory reflected the cultural shift that Guite has brought to the program this season in his first year as head coach.
“Guys are way happier to be on the rink,” Brown said. “I think that really shows when you go on the ice and you’re in certain situations like [Saturday’s game].”
Bowdoin’s semifinal matchup pits the team against rival Colby. It will be the 219th meeting between the two longest-running rivals in small-college hockey and the first in the NESCAC playoffs since 2011. The Polar Bears fell to the Mules in both of their regular season matchups, but Kozic said that Bowdoin is far from outmatched, as the Polar Bears beat several teams this year that also beat Colby.
Shipper added that Bowdoin’s coaching staff has a strong scouting report on Colby. The Mules are a fast team, and Bowdoin is working on its neutral zone play and improving its special teams in preparation for tomorrow’s game.
Guite anticipates a fast-paced, physical and low-scoring game. Despite Bowdoin’s regular-season losses against Colby, he feels that his team is prepared.
“Colby is going to see a different team than they saw in December and in January,” Guite said. “[Bowdoin] has had to learn how to beat the best of the NESCAC.”
In addition to Trinity, first-seeded Wesleyan University (15–7–3; 11–4–3 NESCAC) and fourth-seeded Hamilton College (13–10–2; 11–5–2 NESCAC) bowed out of the tournament last weekend. Brown sees these upsets as proof that the conference championship could go to any of the remaining teams.
“Anyone can win. It’s like that in hockey, especially in the NESCAC,” Brown said.
Should Bowdoin defeat Colby and advance to the championship game, the Polar Bears would face the winner of the other semifinal game between third-seeded Amherst College (16–5–4; 13–3–2 NESCAC) and eighth-seeded Williams College (8–15–2; 5–11–2 NESCAC) on Sunday afternoon.
Bowdoin’s semifinal game against Colby is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. tomorrow. All NESCAC playoff games will be streamed live on the Northeast Sports Network.