Tomorrow, the men’s ice hockey team (10–4–3; 6–2–3 NESCAC) will face off against Colby College (6–8–3; 2–6–3 NESCAC) in its much anticipated rivalry game. Although Bowdoin lost the rivalry match last season, it shut out Colby 3–1 in the NESCAC quarterfinals to eventually become the 2023 NESCAC champions. In December, the Polar Bears fended off the Mules on home ice with a 3–3 overtime tie. Now, Bowdoin will enter the rivalry match ranked second in the NESCAC, while Colby will be looking to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Over winter break, the team did not lose a single NESCAC game. This includes a 1–1 tie against Trinity College (12–3–1; 8–1–1 NESCAC)—currently ranked first and on a perfect win streak in the NESCAC at the time of the matchup.
“[The Trinity game] was a good confidence boost. Our team obviously would have liked to win, but we’ll take a tie and get some points on the board,” forward Andy Stoneman ’23 said.
The low-scoring Trinity game highlights the Polar Bears’s robust defense this year.
“We played a very strong and aggressive defense. And then we came back in the third period with a good push which tied the game,” Head Coach Ben Guite said. “I was really excited to see our team get punched in the face but also get back up and push back.”
Part of the defense’s success this year has been a consistently strong performance by goalie Alex Kozic ’24, who has the second highest save percentage in the NESCAC, behind only Trinity’s goalkeeper.
“For goalies, a big thing is confidence. When you have confidence, and you’re playing with a little swagger, it takes out hesitation in your game and allows you to be your best self,” Kozic said. “At the end of last year, I had that confidence during the playoffs stretch and I was able to continue riding off those previous wins.”
Nevertheless, Kozic compliments the defensive capabilities in front of him.
“I also need to give credit to my team. Last year, the team figured out the right timings and gave me everything that I could handle while taking care of the rest,” Kozic said.
Offensively, the Polar Bears have been looking to improve their tactics as their opponents develop stronger defenses.
“It’s a time of the year where it’s harder to score goals. Teams are better defensively because they’ve had a chance to work on their systems,” Guite said. “We need to work a little harder by creating more dirty offenses, so [opponents] will protect their net front…. It’s better timing, getting greedy and getting your nose dirty.”
These areas of focus align with the team’s offensive philosophy: to focus on high percentage scoring chances.
“A big part of our game is capitalizing on plays and not just throwing pucks at the net,” Stoneman said.
Penalties will likely play a significant factor in this weekend’s rivalry match. Currently, Colby and Bowdoin lead the NESCAC first and second respectively for total number of penalties. However, the Polar Bears have committed fewer major penalties than the Mules.
“We’ve got to be smarter with our stick—that’s the biggest thing. Keep our stick on the ice and on the puck, that eliminates a lot of penalties,” Guite said.
In the heightened environment of a rivalry game, the Polar Bears will be looking to maintain discipline in their play.
“[Colby] will be a good test for us,” Stoneman said. “I think we can keep it together, keep the emotions under control and win five on five hockey because that’s when we’re at our best.”
The Bowdoin-Colby game will begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow and the team encourages its fans to wear all white in support of the Polar Bears.