Men’s Hockey endures a season of ups and downs

Infrequent storms and a sparse student population made for a quiet month on the Colby campus. However, the Colby men’s hockey team made plenty of noise during JanPlan. Despite a 3-5-2 record, the Mules played multiple tight games against tough competition in what continues to be a promising season.

The ten-game span began on New Year’s day in the Plattsburgh Winter Classic. The Mules started the new year strong with a dominant 6-4 victory over Nazareth College, a barrage of shots from the fierce Colby offense led to the galvanizing win. Unfortunately, their offensive efforts stalled the following day in a disappointing 3-0 loss to SUNY Plattsburgh. The Mules moved on to their next matchup against the University of Southern Maine, where the final tally better represented the determination of an invigorated squad. Their 2-2 tie in an OT matchup indicated an upswing in the team’s play. However, another unsatisfactory performance led to a 7-1 loss to Hamilton on January 8. The team regrouped and looked to rebound in their matchup against Amherst on January 9. A strong offensive effort yielded an impressive 5-2 win on home ice. The Mules anticipated a tough matchup at Trinity and prepared for what was expected to be a close game.

The team faced a ferocious offensive attack from the Bantams, who tallied a total of 49 shots in the contest. Three quick Trinity goals in the first period seemingly put the game out of reach, but spectacular goaltending from Emerson Verrier ’18 gave the Mules a fighting chance. Colby’s stout defense rendered the Bantams scoreless in the second period, keeping their hopes of a comeback alive. However, a minor breach in their defensive efforts led to a goal by Trinity’s Ryan Cole only four minutes into the final period, bringing the tally to 4-0. The Mules were clearly unwilling to give up, as they went on a shooting frenzy for the remainder of the game. Finally, Colby’s Geoff Sullivan ’17 managed to flick a shot past Trinity’s goaltender amidst a scrum in the front of the net to keep Colby’s hopes alive. Two minutes later, Colin O’Reilly ’17 deftly skated behind the net and maneuvered a wrap around goal to bring the score to 4-2. The clock continued to tick, and with 1:18 left in the third period, Verrier skated off the ice, leaving Colby with an empty net so they could attempt a final push to tie the game. The tactic worked as Nick O’Connor ’19 managed to squeeze a shot past Trinity goaltender Nathaniel Heilbron to bring the score to 4-3. Colby took numerous well-aimed shots in the final 15 seconds, but none of them found their mark, keeping the final score at 4-3 in one of their closest games of the season.

The Mules looked to recover in their next game on January 16 at Wesleyan. The Mules fought another close battle against the Cardinals, but were unable to secure a victory. Back and forth play led to an eventual scoreless overtime, resulting in a 2-2 tie. The Mules had a week to regroup before playing two important rivals on home ice, beginning with Middlebury on January 22. After Middlebury jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Colby bounced back to tie the game in the second period. However, two goals in the final period put the game out of reach, resulting in a 4-2 loss. The Mules  hoped to bounce back the next night in their game against the Ephs from Williams. The men fought hard, but lost the close contest by a score of 3-1. Three days later, however, the Mules took down University of New England at home in an offensive onslaught by a score of 7-4.

A rollercoaster season has seen the Colby men’s hockey team play tough in every contest. They will need to continue this gutsy style of play in their four upcoming games as they take on NESCAC opponents Hamilton, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Trinity in the next week.

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