Bowdoin men's hockey bounced back from a loss against a highly-ranked Norwich team and avenged an overtime loss to Colby earlier this season with a 5-3 win over the White Mules on Tuesday. Bowdoin also defeated an overmatched St. Michael's team a week ago, 7-2. Bowdoin has earned the number nine ranking in the nation with another strong week which improved the team's record to 13-3-3 (9-3-3 NESCAC), good for second in the conference.
The win against Colby was never in doubt. Bowdoin took a 2-0 lead six minutes into the game on goals by James Gadon '07 and Bobby Cavanagh '05. Bowdoin extended the lead to 3-0 on a power-play goal by Jon Landry '06.
Bowdoin's signature physical play seemed to catch up with the team in the second period, as Colby scored two power-play goals, including a goal on only four Bowdoin players. However, sophomore Greg McConnell's two goals in the final two periods of the game vaulted Bowdoin over the Mules for a 5-3 victory. Junior Goalie George Papachristopolous finished the game with 29 saves.
Senior co-captain Shannon McNevan noted the satisfying nature of the win. "Any time you can beat Colby at anything it feels good, but it was definitely a treat for us seniors to end our Bowdoin-Colby rivalry with a win in their barn," he said.
Bowdoin would not find such satisfaction in Vermont against a fourth-ranked Norwich squad. After a scoreless and relatively uneventful first period, Bowdoin took the first lead of the game on a goal from McConnell early in the second period. Bowdoin held this lead most of the middle period. However, following a hooking penalty on Will Reycraft '08, Norwich tied the game with a power play goal.
Bowdoin and Norwich remained locked in a tie through much of the third period, but the game eventually got away from Bowdoin. Norwich took a lead eight minutes in, and shortly afterwards, Kurtis McLean of Norwich put the game out of reach. McLean netted two goals in a three-minute span, one of them a short-handed unassisted score to cement the win for Norwich.
Although it outshot Norwich 29-21, Bowdoin lost 4-1. Despite the loss and the scoring frustration, McNevan found plenty of positives that could be drawn from the game. "Norwich was probably the best team that we will face and we left that game knowing that we can outplay any team in the country," McNevan said.
Earlier this week, Bowdoin also defeated St. Michael's in a dominant performance worthy of the ninth national ranking. Although the team allowed a goal less than a minute into the contest, Bowdoin responded quickly, as defenseman Colin Hughes '08 scored a power play goal. Adam Dann '06 scored his tenth goal of the season to give Bowdoin a 2-1 edge entering the first intermission.
St. Michael's scored another goal early in the second period. McNevan ended any hopes St. Michael's had of an upset, though. The senior captain scored two goals in less than a minute midway through the second period.
Bowdoin would need no more scoring, as Papachristopolous and the defense held St. Michael's scoreless for the rest of the game. Dann scored his second goal of the game and Andy Nelson '06 chipped in a goal. On an unusual 5-4 power play resulting from several game misconducts, Landry scored a goal to finish the scoring.
The team has kept a very level head during the season, even with its gaudy record and high rank in the national polls. "The last two seasons we have been nationally-ranked going into the playoffs and felt the wrath of the single-elimination format," McNevan said.
Bowdoin finishes its home schedule this weekend with games against Salem State and Southern Maine. Afterwards, Bowdoin travels to Hamilton and Amherst to finish the regular season. Even though these teams represent decidedly easier competition than either Colby or Norwich, Bowdoin refuses to look ahead to the playoffs and focuses on each game.
"This year we are trying to treat these last games of the year like playoff games, in the sense that we are trying to really focus on keeping our killer instinct and intensity level up regardless of whether we are up 10 goals or down one," McNevan said.
Bowdoin faces off with Salem State at 7:00 p.m. tonight and plays its final home game of the regular season tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.