BRUNSWICK, ME -- The Williams Men's Hockey team (0-1) put 29 shots on net but failed to light the lamp in a 2-0 loss to the Bowdoin Polar Bears (1-0) in their first game of the season.
After sixteen minutes of scoreless play, Bowdoin got on the board first with a power-play goal from forward Harry Matheson. The Ephs fought hard to come back, but the Polar Bears put the game out of reach with a goal from forward Robert Toczylowski with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Despite the low final score, both teams came out firing in a physical first period that saw 21 total shots on goal. The first legitimate scoring chances of the game came for the Polar Bears, who went on the man advantage three minutes into the action after a Williams power play. However, a flurry of shots were denied by goaltender Sean Dougherty '15 to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
Dougherty put together a fine effort between the pipes, stopping 30 of 32 shots in his first start of the season and the fifth start of his entire career. His counterpart, goaltender Steve Messina, stopped all 29 Eph shots on net. Dougherty will have the daunting task of filling the skates of All-League goaltender Ryan Purdy, who graduated last spring.
"He really kept coming and getting better last season," noted head coach Bill Kangas. "We expected him to really fill that void with Purdy graduating, and he did a good job tonight and we expect him to only get better."
On the offensive side of the ice, the Ephs almost took the advantage halfway through the period on a nice backhand attempt from David Jarrett '15 in front of the net, but the puck deflected off the pad of Bowdoin goaltender Steve Messina.
After an Eph penalty at the 16-minute mark of the first period, the Polar Bears finally broke the ice with the help of a lucky bounce of the puck. At the tail end of the power play, Toczlowski charged the net and flipped a shot on Dougherty that skidded behind the net. Matheson corralled the puck and snapped a wrist shot from the right side that deflected off Dougherty's right skate and into the net to give Bowdoin a 1-0 advantage.
Bowdoin took this momentum into the second period and put the pressure on the Eph defense with some quality scoring chances. Once again, though, Dougherty made a number of key stops and was able to cover rebound attempts to prevent the Polar Bears from extending their lead.
Perhaps the best save of the night from the young goaltender actually came on a Williams power play midway through the second period. After an Eph turnover in the neutral zone, two Polar Bear defenders skated in on a two-on-zero shorthanded rush. The defender with the puck feigned a pass and made a nice move to his backhand, but Dougherty quickly shifted to his right to deflect the attempt away.
Looking to score their first goal of the season, the Ephs picked up their offensive pressure in the second period and mustered 11 shots on goal in the frame. Their closest chance came from freshman forward Alex DeBaere '16, who almost tapped in his own rebound attempt after beating a Bowdoin defender in a rush up the left side of the ice.
Less than a minute after taking the ice to start the third period, the Ephs appeared to tie up the score when defenseman Mike Brofft '13 chipped a rebound attempt on goal in front of the net. The puck seemed to cross the goal line, but the whistle was blown and the goal was waved off.
Energized by their near score, the Ephs began controlling puck possession and peppering Messina with shots. They nearly struck paydirt on a 5-on-3 man advantage after consecutive penalties on Bowdoin. Near the end of the power play, a cross-ice pass found Evan Dugdale '13 open in front of the net, but his shot barely sailed past the right post and into the boards.
With less than two minutes remaining, Bowdoin stifled any attempt at a comeback when Toczylowski scored on a wraparound attempt off assists from Rob MacGregor and Kyle Lockwood.
"I thought we played well," remarked Kangas after the game. "First game of the year, I know we can play a lot better and I think the guys know that they can play a lot better, but at the same time, [this was] two good teams going at it."
The Ephs will look to pick up their first win of the season on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Waterville, ME to take on the Colby Mules at 3 pm.