Maine Hockey Journal

Bowdoin’s season ends in dramatic fashion

BRUNSWICK – In the words of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Saturday was a “crash landing to the end of the season” for the Bowdoin men’s hockey team.

Belichick’s words after the AFC Championship loss to the Denver Broncos in January rang true for the Polar Bears. Leading 4-2 with 20 minutes left to play, Amherst College scored six times in the third period for an 8-5 victory in Saturday’s New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinal action at Watson Arena in Brunswick.

Amherst moves on to the NESCAC Tournament and will play Middlebury, who defeated Hamilton while Tufts will play Trinity after they upset No. 1 seed Williams. Trinity defeated Colby, 3-1. All games will take place Trinity College as the highest remaining seed next weekend. Semifinal games will take place on Saturday with the Championship game Sunday.

Amherst coach Jack Arena had no qualms about the way his team played for the first 40 minutes.

“We felt we were playing fairly well, even though we were behind,” Arena said. “We told the guys to stay with what we were doing, and we would have our chances to capitalize hopefully on them and see where it takes us.”

The six goals in 20 minutes were most scored b Amherst this season.

The loss ends the storied career of Terry Meagher at Bowdoin, as the 33-year head coach ends his tenure with a record of 542-253-58, winning 67% of his games, two NESCAC titles and two ECAC Championships. He had similar sentiments on how his team played.

“I think we played pretty well,” said Meagher. “I am surprised that it doesn’t happen more often with the way that puck moves around bouncing and hitting people and how hard it is for the goaltender. It’s amazing these goaltenders as good as they are. It was one of those (games). I kind of had that feeling something was in the air.”

Amherst started the third period with a full two-minute power play as Chris Wallace went off for hooking at the end of the second period. With 19 seconds remaining in the man advantage, Patrick Arena scored his third goal of the season.

They were 1-for-3 on the power play while Bowdoin was 1-for-2.

Bowdoin would follow 41 seconds later when Austin Ricci notched his second goal of the contest off the faceoff 1:48 into the period.

“We kept telling ourselves let’s get out there and get one back and get this game back in our hands,” Ricci said. “We went out there and got a lucky bounce and popped in. We need to get another one and keep playing.”

Once again down by two goals, 5-3, Amherst responded 34 seconds later as Austin Ho scored his first of the game. Two and half minutes later Chris Roll scored his third goal of the season to tie the game, 5-5.

“Getting the power play goal at the beginning of the third was big for us,” Arena said. The biggest one was when they scored right away, to make 5-3, and then we got it right back to make it 5-4. I think for us we realized this really can happen.”

At the 7:13 mark of the third period, Ho notched his second goal and the eventual game-winner with Brendan Burke setting the goal up.

David White ended any hope of a comeback with his fourth tally of the season with 4:29 to play to make 7-5. Will Vosejpka added his sixth goal this season with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

After a strong opening few minutes of the game for the Polar Bears, Amherst started to get going offensively. Bowdoin goaltender Peter Cronin was tested early when Thomas Lindstrom intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and went 1-on-1 where Cronin stopped him with a great glove save.

It was one of 15 saves Cronin made in the opening period. He would make 16 in the final two periods.

“He a great goalie. He has played so well against us this year. Sometimes the puck bounces for you and today they certainly they did for us,” Arena said.

Cronin’s counterpart Dave Cunningham made 27 saves in the victory.

His teammates would provide some help offensively when freshman Cody Todesco went down the left wing where he threw the puck in the center of the slot where a streaking Camil Blanchet was able to deflect the puck into the net with 9:03 remaining in the first period.

Bowdoin took advantage of a five-on-three man advantage when Matt Lison stretched the lead to 2-0 for Bowdoin with 47 seconds left in the first period.

In the second, it was Amherst that had the quick start as they outshot the Polar Bears, 5-0, in the first six minutes.

Bowdoin’s first shot of the period found the back of the net off when Austin Ricci fired a wrister from the left circle.

“I think the game had a lot of ebb and flow to it,” Meagher said. “There were surges by both teams. All-in-all when you take stock of the whole year, I am pretty proud of this group. They played their hearts out, and they played their hearts out again tonight. It’s one of those games that’s hard to explain.”

Amherst wouldn’t go down without a fight. Chris Roll sent the puck towards Cronin and Brendan Burke deflected into the net at the 8:34 mark. They got within one when a shot by Conor Brown fluttered over Cronin at the 12:35 mark.

“I think getting that first goal for us was really important,” Arena said. “That gave us a little bit of life. Then we got it to 3-2. All sudden all our guys, even felt good how they were playing, getting the results was really important.”

The Polar Bears regained a two-goal lead when the puck was sent to Todesco, who was sitting outside the crease with a half-open net. He whiffed on the shot attempt, but just got enough for the puck to trickle in with 5:09 to play for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.

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