The Hamilton College men's hockey team ends the regular season with two away NESCAC games this weekend. Hamilton travels to Middlebury College on Saturday, Feb. 17 for a 4 p.m. contest and face Williams College on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Hamilton (14-6-2, 8-6-2 NESCAC) enters the weekend tied for fourth place in the conference standings with Wesleyan University and is one of five teams in the conference with eight NESCAC wins. If Hamilton wins both games this weekend and Wesleyan loses both games to nationally ranked No. 6/6 Trinity College, it will guarantee that Hamilton hosts a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal next Saturday.
Brandon Willett '18 has recorded seven points in the last five games for a total of nine goals and 10 assists so far this season. Jason Brochu '19 guides the team with 22 points, and he and Neil Conway '18 have handed out 13 assists apiece. Rory Gagnon '19 is second in the NESCAC with 13 goals and Nick Ursitti '20 has 10. Sterling Bray '20 and Sean Allen '21 both have 10 points.
Evan Buitenhuis '18 returned to action last weekend after missing four weeks with an injury. He made 39 saves through two games, including 25 stops in the 2-0 shutout victory over Tufts on Feb. 11. Buitenhuis leads Division III in goals against average (1.47) and save percentage (.947) through 613 minutes in goal. Anthony Tirabassi '20 maintained the net throughout Buitenhuis' absence. Tirabassi has a .929 save percentage in over 702 minutesl, and he ranks third in the NESCAC with a 1.88 goals against average.
In the last seven games, Middlebury (4-16-2, 2-12-2) -- currently in 10th place in the NESCAC standings -- has five losses and two ties, and its last win was a 3-2 decision over Colby on Jan. 19. Even if the Panthers win both of their games this weekend, they will not make the eight-team conference playoffs.
Gagnon scored twice when Hamilton defeated Middlebury 4-1 back on Dec. 8.
Owen Powers leads Middlebury with five goals and nine points, and one of those goals was the solo goal against Hamilton. Vincent Gisonti has four goals and Michael Fahie has five assists. Fahie and Kamil Tkaczuk both have three goals. Tkaczuk, David Belluche and Brendan Dawson each have four helpers.
Stephen Klein has played nearly every minute in goal for the Panthers and holds a .922 save percentage and 2.72 goals against average.
Williams (12-10, 8-8) joins Hamilton as one of five teams in the conference with eight NESCAC wins and will host Amherst College (8-4-4 NESCAC) on Saturday before the Continentals arrive on Sunday. The Ephs are currently in seven place in the standings and even with two losses this weekend are guaranteed a spot in the conference playoffs.
Willett scored the third period game-winner in a 3-2 Hamilton win over then-No. 13/14 Williams back on Dec. 9 to extend the Continentals' unbeaten streak against the Ephs to seven games.
Roberto Cellini guides Williams with 13 assists and 20 points. C.J. Shugart is tied for third in the NESCAC with 11 goals. David Italiano has 10 goals with half of those goals scored on the power play. Nick Van Belle has seven goals and Joe Welch has nine assists.
Michael Pinios and Stephen Morrissey have both played over 630 minutes in goal this season for Williams. Both goaltenders have a .916 save percentage and they combine for a 2.54 goals against average. Pinios made the start against Hamilton on Dec. 9 and made 32 saves in the loss.