Updated Jan. 27, 11:55 p.m.: At the time of publication, the men's ice hockey team had a 16-1-1 record, and from Jan. 8 to Jan. 22, the team won 7 out of its 8 games over that stretch, even though the last win came after the winter break.
The men’s ice hockey team has been hot since the weather got colder,
winning seven out of its eight games, including all its road matches. The Polar Bears have managed to remain undefeated on the road this season.
“It was an arduous schedule, but it was a windfall for the team because you can build a team on the road,” said Head Coach Terry Meagher. “It certainly brought us together as a team and it showed a level of collegiate maturity to get off a bus against teams that want to hold that fort.”
The team started the break at Amherst, where the Lord Jeffs got out to an early 1-goal lead. Bowdoin managed to stay tied with Amherst throughout the second period with goals from Jay Livermore ’14 and captain Dan Weiniger ’13, but it was a late tally by Colin Downey ’14 that sealed a 3-2 victory. The next day Bowdoin faced off against Hamilton, where goals from six different Polar Bears overwhelmed the Continentals on the way to a 6-2 win.
“We always come together and play great hockey over the January break and this year was no different,” said Weiniger. “We are a very close group and being able to spend a few weeks without any distractions together really helps us.”
Bowdoin returned home for a tightly-fought game against the University of New England, where it took a third-period power play goal from Harry Matheson ’14 to lift the team to a 4-3 victory. That weekend the Polar Bears hosted Wesleyan for what seemed poised to be another victory with a 4-1 lead in the second period. But the Cardinals clawed their way back in the third period to even the score at 5-5 and force the game to overtime. With less than a minute remaining in overtime, Wesleyan scored the game-winning goal, dealing Bowdoin its first loss of the season.
“The hard thing on any kind of run in a goal sport is dealing with the variability of the goal tending,” said Meagher. “With a little luck or a bad bounce, they can be the most unfair of any sport. Wesleyan didn’t give up and earned that victory.”
“Losing to Wesleyan was a tough pill to swallow at first because we were our own enemy,” said Weiniger. “We completely beat ourselves in that game, but moving forward we treat it as a learning experience to make sure it doesn’t happen again down the road.”
The Polar Bears came back with a strong effort the next night at home against Trinity. With the Bantams trailing by one, Ollie Koo ’14 and Connor Quinn ’15 each scored to seal a 5-2 victory. Bowdoin then went back on the road against Williams, where the team built a 3-1 lead after a scoreless first period with goals from John McGinnis ’15, Tim Coffey ’15 and Koo. Matheson sealed the deal with a goal early in the third period for a 4-1 win.
Bowdoin then traveled up to Middlebury for a much anticipated matchup—the Panthers had handed the Polar Bears their only tie of the season on November 17. Matheson made a statement from the start, scoring the first goal 43 seconds into the game. After a goal by McGinnis in the second period, the Panthers upped the pressure on goalie Max Fenkell ’15, who turned aside a couple of point-blank shots. A second goal by Matheson brought the score to 3-0 and 38 saves by Fenkell preserved the shutout, marking Bowdoin’s first win at Middlebury since 1993.
“It was great being able to pick up two huge wins on the road against Middlebury and Williams and it has put us in a great position heading into the final six games,” said Weiniger. “We are very happy with two wins, but we know that it is in the past, and we still need to keep improving if we want to meet our goals come March.”
With classes back in session, Bowdoin hosted the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday night. After an uninspiring scoreless first period, with the Polar Bears down 1-0, Bowdoin scored five goals in the second period to coast to a 5-1 victory.
“It was a close game and then we had a little surge,” said Meagher. “We are a surge frenzy team and when that occurs, we’re really good, but when we’re cruising we’re not that good.”
Bowdoin heads into its bye-weekend preparing to host Amherst and Hamilton next weekend. The Polar Bears are currently ranked third in D-III and have a commanding three game lead ahead of Williams for the first-seed in the NESCAC playoffs.
“We want to be playing our best hockey at this point in the year, and that definitely starts with Amherst,” said Weiniger. “They have a very strong team and we played them to a very close 3-2 game at their barn this year. We are excited at what lies ahead and we are ready to take a kick at the can.”