March 9, 2014

Men's Hockey Wins Second-Straight NESCAC Title in Double-Overtime Thriller

HARTFORD, Conn. – Junior forward John McGinnis scored the game-winning goal 22 seconds into the second overtime to lead the Bowdoin College men's ice hockey team to a 3-2 victory over Amherst in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship game at Trinity College Sunday afternoon.

The fifth-seeded Polar Bears (17-8-2) become the first repeat NESCAC Champion since Middlebury won four-straight conference titles between 2004-08 and earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. The complete field and bracket will be announced on Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Second-seeded Amherst closes its year with a 16-8-3 mark.

Bowdoin scored the only goal of the first period, as first-year Matt Sullivan controlled the puck from behind the net and fed Danny Palumbo in front for a quick shot past Amherst goalie David Cunningham 7:23 into the game. 

Amherst came out firing in the second period, after managing just five shots in the first, but Bowdoin junior netminder Max Fenkell made numerous stop including a glove save on a hard wrist shot by sophomore forward Conor Brown on a 2-on-1 for the Lord Jeffs.  Topher Flanagan shot wide early in the second for Amherst with an open space in front of him from close, but the Lord Jeffs broke through with 2:10 on the clock on a shot by Elliot Bostrom from above the left circle that made its way through traffic and past Fenkell on a power play to tie the game at 1-1 at the second break.

A great individual effort by Kyle Lockwood put Bowdoin ahead midway through the third period. Lockwood dug the puck out of the corner, circled to the slot and ripped a wrister from 15 feet out that deflected off Cunningham's glove and into the net at the 12:25 mark of the third.  Amherst tied it just 1:25 later on a shot by Brian Safstrom that deflected off a skate and into the goal.  Both teams nearly took a lead before overtime, as Polar Bear sophomore Matt Rubinoff shot wide from point-blank range with just under four minutes on the clock after a scrum in front of the crease and Brown blasted a shot all alone from the left wing as the horn sounded that was caught by Fenkell.

The teams combined for 25 shots in the first extra period, but neither could end it, as Fenkell made 15 of his 41 saves and Cunningham had 10 of his 30 saves in the fourth period. 

The game-winner started with great forechecks by defensemen Ryan Collier and Mitch Barrington. The puck came loose to McGinnis, who rushed down the left side and unleashed a beautiful shot top-shelf to give Bowdoin the title.  The Lord Jeffs finished with a 43-33 shooting edge, but were 1-for-8 on power plays.  Bowdoin was 0-for-3 with the extra skater.

Max Fenkell was outstanding in net for the Polar Bears, stopping 41 shots in the win. Dave Cunningham made 30 saves in a stellar effort for the Jeffs.

Photos courtesy of Travis Kotecco/Trinity College