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Ephs’ hockey off to a fast start with wins before break

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williams hockey has been looking for that signature win for a couple of years under Head Coach Bill Kangas, and last weekend they may have found it.

After losing to Bowdoin in the opener 2-0, the Ephs have regrouped and moved to 6-2 before their winter break, with a huge 2-1 win over Amherst last Friday night and another over Hamilton, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been awhile since we had that ‘big’ win for our program, and against Amherst we got one that really helped,” said Kangas, who is in his 24th year behind the Williams bench.

For the Ephs, it all starts between the pipes with junior standout Sean Dougherty (Smithtown, N.Y.). Dougherty had 14 saves in the Hamilton win; however, the junior made several game-saving saves in the first period when Hamilton out-shot the Ephs 8-5.

“Coming off the big emotional win [Friday night against Amherst] to come back out here less than 24 hours later, I thought we started rather sluggish but [Dougherty] kept us in it,” Kangas said after the Hamilton win.

With five minutes left in the first period, the Williams frontline got trapped deep in their own zone, allowing a breakaway for a Hamilton forward. The Continentals’ Evan Haney snapped off not one but two shots from point-blank range that Dougherty easily turned away to preserve the 0-0 tie after one period.

“You could see that we were a little sluggish at the start, but once we got our legs under us, we started to move the puck better through the zone,” Kangas said.

The Ephs came out firing in the second period as they out-shot the Continentals 15-3 and found themselves capitalizing on some power-plays with several 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 rushes to the net, resulting in two scores.

Williams captain Mark Lyons (Calgary, Alberta) knocked home a loose puck under the Hamilton goalie’s glove for the opening score on Saturday, with the assist coming off a shot from the point from fellow captain John Wickman (Dallas, Texas) for the early lead.

The Ephs added to that score with 8:38 remaining in the second when Matt Doyle (Glen Rock, N.J.) lifted a backhander in the top corner over the Hamilton goalie’s right shoulder for the power play goal and a 2-0 lead.

“That second period really set the tone for the rest of the game; we really came out and moved the puck well and were able to capitalize on some opportunities,” Kangas said.

The third period was a different story as Hamilton clogged the middle of the passing lanes and got more physical in playing a ‘dump and chase’ style of hockey as the Continentals would dump the puck deep in the Williams zone, drawing in the defenders while trying to kick the puck out to the top of the zone for an open shot.

The strategy worked as the Continentals’ Pat Curtis (Ashland, Mass.) took a kick out from the corner and fired a slap shot in the top corner from the point to cut the Ephs’ lead to 2-1.

“We knew they were going to work the corners and try to tie us up; I think [Dougherty] got screened on that shot, and so you got to give them credit for not giving up,” Kangas said.

Dougherty turned away a quick snap shot with a few minutes left in the game, as the only real threat to the Ephs the rest of the way, as Williams held on for the 2-1 win.

“It’s nice to go into break with some big wins; it feels real good and I couldn’t be happier for the guys,” said an appreciative Kangas.

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Posted by on December 13, 2012. Filed under College Sports,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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