Last Saturday, the men’s hockey team (11–4–3; 7–2–3 NESCAC) faced off against Colby College (6–9–3; 2–7–3 NESCAC) in front of a sold-out crowd at Sidney J. Watson Arena. Students, alumni and community members raised their rally towels and gasped at the big hits, huge saves and momentous goals. Like so many years before, the crowd cheered, chanted and banged their fists against the glass.
The Polar Bears walked out of Watson Arena with a win against Colby for the first time since 2015. Bowdoin defeated the Mules 5–1 in a statement win that showcased the team’s grit and determination to become a dominant force in the NESCAC. The 5–1 win marked Bowdoin’s largest margin of victory against Colby since 1994.
“I thought it was a great team effort. We were hard on the forecheck, and we played defense super hard,” forward Gabe Shipper ’26 said. “It was a lot of the little things. It felt like everyone was pushing and dialing into what their role was.”
Bowdoin took the lead just three minutes into the game when forward Luke Wheeler ’25 won the faceoff and passed to defender Jack Gilligan ’25. Gilligan took a shot, and Shipper was in front of the net to get the puck behind Colby goaltender Andy Beran.
“It was just a quick rebound, and I was right there to pounce on it,” Shipper said.
Just four minutes later, forward Will Forrest ’24 carried the puck into the offensive zone and made a backhanded pass to forward Jesse Lycan ’24, who put Bowdoin up 2–0.
“I had just gotten on the ice, and [Forrest] made a really good play to get in the zone. I was thrown in the middle, and the puck was just sitting there for me,” Lycan said.
Shipper added another goal almost identical to his first. He deflected a pass from Gilligan to give Bowdoin a 3–0 lead halfway through the first period.
“We used the crowd to our advantage,” Assistant Coach Sean Walsh said. “Capitalizing early on in that environment with all the students and fans was awesome. I think it put Colby on its heels.”
Bowdoin’s offense continued relentlessly. Forward Richard Davis ’27 scored another goal off a pass from James Cerepak ’26 in the second period.
“I think we did a good job of staying on the gas pedal,” Shipper said.
Colby scored a shorthanded goal to make the score 4–1 at the end of the third period. But Bowdoin stopped the Mules’ momentum there and continued to dominate. Michael Dinges ’26 scored with just 33 seconds remaining in the game to cement the 5–1 victory.
Goaltender Alex Kozic ’24 made 28 stops for the Polar Bears, and Bowdoin won 35 of its 59 faceoffs. Wheeler led the team with three assists.
Head Coach Ben Guite said Bowdoin was focused on scoring goals and being aggressive around the net, something he didn’t see from the team in its most recent two games against Middlebury College and Williams College.
“We got to the dirty areas. Both of [Shipper’s] goals were right at the goal mouth,” Guite said. “Michael Dinges’s goal was a rebound. We were really aggressive around the net, which I liked. I thought our sticks were much better…. If your stick is on the ice, you can’t take penalties.”
Throughout the game, Bowdoin only took one penalty—a stark contrast to last year’s home Bowdoin-Colby game, when the Polar Bears were penalized seven times and lost 0–4. The Polar Bears were intentional about staying out of the penalty box this year.
“If you retaliate, you’re the one who’s going to get the penalty…. I think a big part of the reason why we won that game is because we stayed five-on-five,” Shipper said. “Not taking penalties after the whistle helped us keep our momentum.”
At the end of the game, Shipper was presented the Peter Schuh Memorial Award, given to the MVP of the game. Shipper was also named NESCAC Player of the Week for his efforts on Saturday.
Despite having not won this annual home match in nine years, Bowdoin has triumphed over Colby in multiple recent games. Bowdoin beat the Mules 3–1 last year in the NESCAC playoffs. In December, Bowdoin tied Colby 3–3 in Waterville.
“We beat Colby in the playoffs last year, but to beat them in the regular season, in front of [Bowdoin] players’ friends and their families—as much as we focused on what matters for our standings, playoff push and NCAA berth—it means a great deal,” Guite said.
Bowdoin currently sits second in the NESCAC. Tonight, the Polar Bears will play Amherst College (11–7–0; 6–6–0 NESCAC) at 7 p.m. at Watson Arena. Bowdoin will also host Hamilton College (12–5–1; 7–4–1 NESCAC) in its military appreciation game tomorrow afternoon. The team will hold programming to honor local veterans, a chuck-a-puck to collect donations and a post-game community skate.
“We’re trying to build off what we’ve built this season so far. I think one of our main goals is to have a home playoff game, so obviously the next few weeks are really important,” Lycan said. “We’re trying to take it one game at a time and just keep rolling.”