The men’s ice hockey team, hot off its highest D-III ranking in team history (No. 2), lost to Amherst at home last Friday for the first time since the Sidney J. Watson Arena was built. 

The team split the weekend, beating Hamilton the next day.  In the team’s first game after its bye week, the Lord Jeffs got off to a quick start by scoring four goals in the first period against Steve Messina ’14.  That was enough for Head Coach Terry Meagher, who switched netminders at the beginning of the second period to Max Fenkell ’15.  The Polar Bears were only able to score one goal from senior captain Dan Weiniger in the period. 

“Goal sports are tough—the bottom line is that sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t,” said Meagher. “I thought we played as strong a game for most of it as we’ve played all year.  But if we brought close to our best game and played well, then you’ve got to tip your hat to your opponent and respect what they did.”

Despite multiple scoring chances throughout the rest of the game, Bowdoin was never able to draw within two goals to Amherst. A quick goal at the beginning of the third period put the game on ice for the Lord Jeffs, who went on to win 6-3, dealing Bowdoin only its second loss of the season.

“When you get that time off from playing the game, you’re not used to the game speed, especially when you’re playing a quick, physical team like Amherst,” Weiniger said, acknowledging some of the struggles the team faced coming back from a bye week. “But to be frank, I thought we played a great game, and we’re really not concerned about it moving forward.”

The Polar Bears seemed ready to rebound on Saturday against the Continentals. Weiniger scored in the first period after Ollie Koo ’14 penetrated the zone with speed, circled around the net and found him in front. A bad giveaway led to a Hamilton equalizer, but John McGinnis ’15 was able to rekindle the team’s lead, putting away his own rebound into the Hamilton net. 

“If you’re going to be in the hunt then you need resiliency and the ability to bounce back,” said Meagher.  “You have to be realistic and analyze what happened and what you are. Especially against a tough team fighting for a playoff spot. I think that was the key for the weekend.”  
In a game that would prove to be back and forth all night, Bowdoin soon found itself on the power play when Rob Toczylowski ’13 was able to fire it past the Hamilton goalie’s stick side after only 12 seconds. The second period saw only more offense as Weiniger scored his second goal, increasing Bowdoin’s lead to 4-1.

In the third period, Hamilton closed the gap to 4-2 before Weiniger found an empty net goal with less than a minute to play, completing the hat trick. He was awarded NESCAC Player of the Week honors for his performances in both of the weekend games.

“We were trying to get the pucks in deep and work their defense below the goal line,” said Weiniger.  “That’s where we found our success.”

With a weekend blizzard looming over most of New England, the Polar Bears travel plans have changed to accomodate the weather.  The team will start their weekend play as scheduled at NESCAC No. 4 Trinity on Saturday. On Sunday night, the team will face Wesleyan, who it was originally set to play tonight. Wesleyan is the only team Bowdoin has lost to this season besides Amherst. 

“Being able to get another crack at Wesleyan, it’s going to be a fun game for us,” said Weiniger. “We definitely have our eyes set on beating them.” 

With the playoff picture still shaping up and a variety of interesting matchups around the league, the outcomes of this weekend’s games have major implications. Following the Amherst loss, Bowdoin has only slipped one spot in the U.S. College Hockey Coaches Association polls, from No. 2 to No. 3. And because Williams and Trinity—who were right behind Bowdoin in the NESCAC—both lost games last weekend, the Polar Bears retained their 2-game lead in the conference. With a little help from other teams this weekend, Bowdoin could even secure home ice for the playoffs before the final games.

“All we are worried about is the first period Friday night,” said Meagher.  “We’re not looking at all this stuff outside the glass.”