BRUNSWICK, Maine – The Bowdoin College men's ice hockey team won its first NCAA Tournament game on Wednesday evening at Sidney J. Watson Arena, 2-1, over visiting Neumann University. The Polar Bears (19-7-1) advance to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament where they will travel to play at Oswego State University Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. Neumann ends its season with a record of 14-9-5.
Steve Messina was outstanding, stopping 33 shots in the victory for Bowdoin. Bryan Rosata's first career goal and Robert Toczylowski's fifth of the season accounted for Bowdoin's scoring. The Polar Bears earn a victory in their first-ever home NCAA Tournament game in their fourth national tournament appearance overall. The Knights, making their second NCAA Tournament appearance, lose for the first time in NCAA play after winning the 2009 Championship.
Neumann had a great early chance to put one on the scoreboard when a scramble in front came loose to Brent Tamane. Falling to the ice, Tamane flipped a shot that was stifled by Bowdoin's Steve Messina. Bowdoin had a tremendous chance on the power play with seven minutes remaining in the period, but goaltender Ross MacKinnon blocked several in-close chances. The Knights took advantage of a turnover in the Bowdoin zone moments later, and Jake Kratz knocked home his own rebound to give Neumann a 1-0 lead at 13:34.
After Bowdoin was unable to convert on a five-minute major penalty, the Polar Bears drew even when Kyle Shearer-Hardy fed Bryan Rosata in front at 4:18 for the senior's first career goal. Bowdoin killed off three consecutive penalties later in the period and pulled ahead with a rush down ice. Jeff Fanning controlled the puck down the left wing and delivered a pretty feed from the corner to Robert Toczylowski streaking down the middle at 17:25 to give the hosts a 2-1 lead after two periods.
The teams featured back and forth play until late in the final frame when Neumann made a frantic push to garner a game-tying score. Messina stood on his head, stopping several shots in succession, and finished with 12 third-period stops to seal the victory. Ross MacKinnon made 23 saves in the loss for the Knights.
Neumann committed 10 penalties for 42 minutes, including a pair of game misconducts. Bowdoin, who entered the game with the top-ranked power play unit in Division III couldn't convert on six chances, including three in the final period. The Polar Bears were called for nine penalties for 18 minutes and held the Knights to an 0-4 effort with the extra man.
The win is the 19th of the season for Bowdoin, and marks the first time that the Polar Bears have won 19 games in consecutive seasons since 1987-88 and '88-'89.
Bowdoin will return to Oswego for the second straight year, eyeing a rematch after last season's 9-2 loss in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals. Fans interested in purchasing tickets for Saturday's game at Oswego can call the box office at 315-312-3073 or go online at tickets.oswego.edu People purchasing by phone or online should ask for tickets in Section 53, behind the visitor's bench.
Photos courtesy of Michele Stapleton Photography