Men’s Hockey Ties Hamilton, falls to 5-12-3

The Colby men’s hockey team (2-9-3 in NESCAC competition) won’t accept moral victories, not at this critical juncture of its season. With just four games to go, the team finds itself in ninth place in the league, one place shy of reaching the conference tournament and a chance to compete for a NESCAC title. As each game passes by, the room for error becomes increasingly smaller, and the team knows it. But, goalie Sam Parker ’15 said, this isn’t something they can harp on. “As frustrating as this weekend was to only get one point when, frankly, we needed a little more, I think we did a lot of good things in terms of tightening our game up and competing for sixty minutes.”

The team’s most recent results, a 2-1 loss to second-ranked Amherst (10-4), and a 2-2 tie against the sixth -ranked Hamilton Continentals (7-8-5), mark an improvement in play from previous efforts. The game against Hamilton snapped a five-game losing streak, four of which came against NESCAC opponents. The Mules held a 2-1 lead going into the third period with both goals coming from sophomore Mario Benicky. The second goal, a play Benicky had gone over with teammates, was a tangible example of how the team has improved its play. “The second one was a play me and my roommate had talked about a couple of times before when I used to be on the powerplay with him,” Benicky said. “I just kept telling him to shoot the puck on my stick and it would go in somehow. That’s what happened. He just shot it, he missed the net on purpose, but he put it on my stick and the puck bounced in.”

Unfortunately, the Mules couldn’t quite close out the game with a lead. Hamilton sophomore Neil Conway netted the tying goal with 6:23 gone in the final period. “Pretty much a bang-bang play,” Parker called it, the result of a brief mental lapse. “We had one tough shift where we had a little trouble clearing the puck, but I thought we played really well. And then the overtime period, we really took control in that, and I was amazed. Some days the puck doesn’t bounce your way.”

At this point, Parker notes, the team doesn’t have a choice but to look forward, and to do so with a positive attitude. As a senior, Parker has seen this movie before. Two years ago Colby Men’s Hockey found itself in a similar position. The team went on to win its last three games and claim the seventh seed in the NESCAC tournament, before eventually losing a close 2-1 game to heavily favored Williams in the opening round. With four games remaining in the season, Parker says the team is ready to finish strong.

Colby can look forward to two road games next weekend against two teams at opposite ends of the standings. The first is at Wesleyan (1-13), the last place team in the NESCAC, whom the Mules beat 5-2 in mid-January. The second is against Trinity (12-1-1), the top-ranked team in the conference, and the fourth ranked team in the nation. Regardless of the opponent’s talent, Parker says the team must remain focused on playing its game. “Do your job. It’s a big thing for Belichick and the Patriots, and we’ve kind of adopted that as one of our team mantras…. We all know what we need to do, and we’re preparing for a huge weekend on the road. Quite frankly, they’re getting to be must-win games now. And we’re ready for them.”

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