BRUNSWICK – It was a night of firsts Wednesday for the Bowdoin men’s hockey program and for senior forward Bryan Rosata.

The Polar Bears (19-7-1) won their first NCAA Division III playoff game and were NCAA postseason hosts for the first time. And Rosata scored his first career goal.

Bowdoin overcame physical play by Neumann University of Aston, Pa., and rallied for a 2-1 victory in the opening round of the playoffs before a crowd of 1,870 at Watson Arena.

The Polar Bears advanced to the quarterfinals and will play at Oswego State for the second straight year at 7 p.m. Saturday.

With Bowdoin trailing 1-0 after the opening period, Rosata tied the game at 4:18 of the second period with Kyle Shearer-Hardy assisting.

“I couldn’t have picked a more perfect time,” Rosata said of scoring his first goal at Bowdoin. “It tied the game at 1-1 and meant a huge swing of momentum.

“When Kyle has the puck, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to get it to you. They left me open and I just ripped it.”

Rosata called it his best scoring opportunity since his freshman season.

“But that was at Dayton Arena (formerly Bowdoin’s home ice). That seems like a long time ago,” he said.

Robert Toczylowski scored the winner at 17:25 of the second, with Jeff Fanning and Kyle Hanson assisting.

The third period was scoreless even though both teams had chances. Bowdoin goalie Steve Messina, named the NESCAC player of the week for his play in last week’s league championship, had 33 saves, including a couple of clutch stops at the end.

“The team was unbelievable in front of me,” said Messina. “It was a madhouse at the end. They were throwing all kinds of shots at me, looking for garbage.”

Bowdoin Coach Terry Meagher didn’t feel there was a defining moment in the game. Rather, it was a sustained, collective effort.

“The players’ character and attitude really came through,” he said.

The Polars Bears knew that Neumann (14-9-5), the 2009 national champion, would come out and be physical.

“We scouted them,” said Toczylowski. “They’re a big, physical team.”

The Knights lost two players because of game misconducts. The Polar Bears lost three to injury as a result of the physical play.

“The more we lost, it seemed the stronger we got,” said Meagher.

The players began the game knowing its significance. After the first period, the Polar Bear settled down and played the kind of hockey that had propelled them here.

“We came to Bowdoin for a reason,” said Toczylowski. “The school has a strong tradition in hockey. To add to that legacy with the first NCAA playoff win means a lot.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]


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