Willett ’18 scores game-winner against No. 13/14 Williams

Brandon Willett ’18 (Josh McKee photo)
Brandon Willett ’18 (Josh McKee photo)

The nationally ranked No. 10/13 Hamilton College men's hockey team defeated No. 13/14 Williams College 3-2 in a NESCAC game on Saturday night at Russell Sage Rink.

The Continentals (5-2-1, 2-2-1 NESCAC) enjoyed a 35-22 shot advantage over the Ephs.  

Williams' David Italiano opened the scoring 1:44 after the opening faceoff. Roberto Cellini found the loose puck at Hamilton's blue line and passed to Nick Van Belle at the faceoff circle. Van Belle and Italiano skated in alone on Evan Buitenhuis '18 (20 saves) when Van Belle passed across the slot to Italiano for a one-timer into the net.

Ian Nichols '19 scored his first goal of the season less than three minutes later to tie the score at 1-1 with 15:48 remaining in the first period. Stephen Cochrane '20 ripped a slap shot from the point and the puck rebounded to the right of Ephs goaltender Michael Pinios (32 saves). Nichols snuck behind a Williams defender and backhanded the loose puck into the goal.

The Ephs (5-2, 4-2) scored their second and final goal with 45.2 seconds remaining in the first to give Williams a 2-1 edge. The Ephs broke out of their own zone and found themselves in a three-on-two situation. Tyler Scott passed to Italiano at the Continentals blue line, and Italiano found Connor Meike at the far post for his first goal of the season.

Hamilton did not waste any time notching the game-tying goal in the second period. Williams won the opening faceoff, but Jason Brochu '19 stole the puck away in the neutral zone and outraced two Eph defenders for a two-on-one alongside Rory Gagnon '19. Pinios denied Brochu's shot from the left side, but Gagnon was all alone at the top of the crease to put away the rebound 11 seconds into the period.

The score remained tied until 9:20 into the third period when Neil Conway '18 denied a breakout attempt by Williams. Conway controlled the loose puck in the corner and passed to the high slot where Brandon Willett '18 drove a slap shot into the upper right corner of the goal.

The Continentals do not return to the ice until Saturday, Dec. 30 when Hamilton travels to Skidmore College for a non-conference game. Hamilton will then host the Thoroughbreds on December 31 at Clinton Arena. The puck drops at 4 p.m. for both contests.