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Men’s hockey crowned NESCAC Champions, earning NCAA bid

March 6, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The men's hockey team won its third NESCAC Championship on Sunday after defeating Williams College in overtime.

Defeating Williams College (9–16–2; 5–11–2 NESCAC) 3–2 in an overtime decision, the men’s hockey team (15–9–3; 6–9–3 NESCAC) won the NESCAC Championship yesterday. Bobby Pearl ’23 scored the game-winner to earn the Polar Bears their third NESCAC title (2013, 2014). The victory wraps up a tournament that saw seventh-seed Bowdoin win its first postseason game in nine years and upset both No. 2 Trinity College (16–8–1; 13–4–1) and No. 5 Colby College (13–11–2; 10–7–1 NESCAC). With the championship win, Bowdoin earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 11.

On Saturday, the Polar Bears defeated the Mules 3–1. The win broke Bowdoin’s eight-year losing streak against Colby, dating back to 2015. After Colby took a lead at the beginning of the second period, Bobby Murray ’23 was able to convert on a pass from Andy Stoneman ’23 to tie the game 1–1. Patrick Callahan ’24 scored with fewer than eight minutes left in the third to put Bowdoin ahead, and Joe Alexander ’23 cemented the win with an empty net goal.

“[Beating Colby] was unreal. In a weird way, it felt like it was the championship game. We hadn’t beaten them since December 2015, so it was nice to get that done in a setting when it really mattered,” Stoneman said.

Bowdoin went on to play No. 8 Williams on Sunday. It was the first time in NESCAC history that the seventh and eighth-seeded teams faced off in the final. Bowdoin entered the match having swept Williams in the regular season, defeating the Ephs 5–3 in November and 3–2 in January. The Polar Bears were also victorious over Williams in the 2013 NESCAC Championship.

Just 14 seconds into the first period, Stoneman scored.

“We won the faceoff and got the puck deep, and I got a nice pass from Patrick Callahan right in the slot and put it on net,” Stoneman said. “It was an exciting way to start the game…. Obviously, in that atmosphere, it was pretty cool.”

Courtesy of Brian Beard
HOCKEY HUGS: The team celebrates its first NESCAC title since 2014.

Williams tied the game four minutes later, and the Ephs scored again to take a 2–1 lead with fewer than 12 minutes remaining in the first frame. Fourteen seconds later, the Polar Bears responded, as Stoneman scored his second goal of the day. The first period ended in a 2–2 tie, and after neither team could score for the next 40 minutes, the game went into overtime.

“Our focus going into overtime was just trying to keep things the same,” Stoneman said. “It was to not change anything and just try to deal with the nerves as best you can and capitalize on the play that you get.”

Pearl said that between regulation and overtime, Head Coach Ben Guite reminded the team of everything they’d been through this season.

“[Guite] was saying how much we worked for it this year and how he knew we were going to come up on top,” Pearl said.

While the energy was high, the team was still feeling the effects of playing its second game of the weekend.

“Everyone was pretty gassed. It was the seventh period of the weekend,” Pearl said. “We [were] a little tired, but we [were] on top of the end. It was special.”

Fewer than four minutes into overtime, Albert Washco ’22 passed the puck to Pearl, who skated into the faceoff circle, let off a shot and found the back of the net, securing Bowdoin’s NESCAC title.

“The puck got on my stick at the top of the circle. A Williams guy was coming out, so I just wanted to throw it on the net,” Pearl said. “I saw it go in, and after that, it was mayhem. Threw the gloves off, threw the stick…. It was the best moment of my life. It was something you can share with these guys forever.”

Courtesy of Brian Beard
GOLDEN GOAL: Bobby Pearl '23 celebrates with his teammates after his game-winning overtime goal.

Bowdoin had 51 shots on Williams’ net, and goaltender Alex Kozic ’24 made 35 saves.

With the team under the helm of Guite, a new head coach, the win also marks the second time in NESCAC history that a rookie head coach has won the NESCAC Championship in their first season.

The Polar Bears will learn who their first opponent in the NCAA Tournament will be this morning, during the NCAA DIII Men’s Hockey Selection Show. The tournament is set to begin this weekend.

“We’re trying to soak this in right now, but the [NCAA bid] is super exciting, too,” Stoneman said. “It’s cool to represent the NESCAC. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Pearl added that Bowdoin will continue to embrace its underdog mentality heading into the tournament.

“We were seventh-seeded in the NESCAC, so we’ve had this little underdog mentality the whole playoffs,” he said. “To go into the NCAA, it’s going to be pretty cool, because we’re going to have that same mentality…. We’re pretty excited.”


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