BRUNSWICK – It looked as if Bowdoin College was going to cruise to a relatively easy victory in its NCAA Division III men’s hockey first-round playoff game against UMass-Dartmouth Wednesday night at Watson Arena.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving.
Despite carrying a majority of the play for the opening two periods (a 41-14 advantage in shots), the Polar Bears were pushed to the limit in their 5-2 victory.
Bowdoin (23-3-2) will travel to Utica for a quarterfinal game at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
UMass-Dartmouth goalie Ryan Williams was the story through the first 40 minutes. An early acrobatic stop on Bowdoin’s Dylan Shamburger was a signal of things to come. Bowdoin dominated the opening period and outshot the Corsairs (12-8-7) 19-3 but were turned aside by Williams time and time again.
“I thought to myself tonight that I may be going over and telling this kid that that’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in here,” said Bowdoin Coach Terry Meagher after watching Williams turn aside 51 shots in a losing effort. “It was his calmness, his coolness. It was like he was eating an ice cream cone out there. He’s not a very highly stressed athlete.”
The Polar Bears did manage to get one past Williams in the first on a power play. Ryan Collier found Jay Livermore open on the blue line, and Livermore wasted no time blasting in a long shot through traffic at 9:21.
Williams continued to shine in the second, robbing Ollie Koo with a quick glove save to open the period.
“The defense did well all night,” said Williams. “They had a lot of shots but they let me see most of them, cleared away the front of the net and helped with some of the rebounds.”
UMass-Dartmouth tied the game at 6:19 of the second. Bowdoin goalie Steve Messina stopped an initial shot from high in the slot by the Corsairs but Evangelos Stefanou chipped in the rebound.
Shamburger (9:40) and UMass-Dartmouth’s Casey Skolnik (14:32) traded goals to keep the game even before a late power play lifted Bowdoin into the lead for good.
Kyle Lockwood paid the price to score the go-ahead goal as he released a shot that beat Williams to the blocker side just before taking an open-ice hit. The goal was scored with 25 seconds left in the period.
“When you get goals near the end of the period it really helps you get that momentum going into the next period and lets the other team think about it during the intermission,” said John McGinnis, who made it 4-2 with a short-handed goal 1:18 into the third.
“To get the one early in the third was huge because we needed that. You have to put them away.”
Alexander Milley completed the Bowdoin scoring at 12:07.