HADLEY, Mass. - Hamilton has earned the top seed and home ice advantage throughout the 2017 NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The Continentals will begin pursuit of their first conference crown when quarterfinal round action commences on Saturday, February 25. Colby, Trinity and Williams have also earned the right to host quarterfinal contests. The highest remaining seed following the weekend will host the semifinals and the final on March 4 and 5. The NESCAC champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Hamilton (17-3-4, 11-3-4 NESCAC) is the top seed for the first time since 2011 and will host a quarterfinal contest for the second straight year. The Continentals went 11-0-2 to open the year and enter the tournament riding a five-game win streak on the strength of a defense that is allowing a league-low 1.58 goals per game. If Hamilton is to make its first semifinal appearance since 2010, the Continentals must get past eighth-seeded Bowdoin (8-15-1, 5-12-1 NESCAC). The Polar Bears are making their 17th straight tournament appearance. Bowdoin struggled during the second half of the season, but finished the regular season playing to a tie with Connecticut College. In the regular season, Hamilton swept the two-game series against the Polar Bears, posting a 6-3 victory at home and earning a 3-1 road win on February 4. The two teams will meet for the sixth time in tournament play. The Continentals own a 3-2 advantage in the series, and registered a win in the 2013 quarterfinals when the two teams last met in the postseason.
Colby (13-6-4, 11-4-3 NESCAC) has earned the No. 2 seed, the team’s highest seed since it was the top seed in 2008, and is making its second straight playoff appearance. The Mules finished the season strong, winning six of their last seven games, including three straight one-goal victories over the final three games of the regular season. Colby is seeking its first semifinal appearance since 2011 and will face seventh-seeded Wesleyan (12-8-4, 7-7-4 NESCAC). The Cardinals return to the tournament after a two-year hiatus. Wesleyan enters the tournament having won two of its last five games. The Cardinals most recently faced Colby on February 11, dropping a 3-2 decision at home, but skated to a 4-4 tie with the Mules on the road on January 14. Colby is 2-0 against Wesleyan in the tournament and the two teams last met in the quarterfinals in 2008.
Third-seeded Trinity (15-6-3, 11-5-2 NESCAC) will host a quarterfinal game for the fifth straight year when it takes on No. 6 Tufts (11-10-3, 9-8-1 NESCAC) in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The Bantams earned the No. 3 seed following a series sweep of in-state rival Wesleyan to close out the regular season. Trinity is making its 17th straight appearance in the tournament and enters the postseason having won five straight games and is 7-1-2 in its last 10 contests. The Bantams are on a quest to advance to the championship game for the second straight year, but the Jumbos stand in their way. The teams split the regular season series with each team winning on their home ice. The Jumbos posted a 3-1 victory in the season opener, while Trinity registered a 7-1 win in Hartford on January 20. After winning just once in January, the Jumbos have gained momentum, winning four of their last six games heading into the tournament. Tufts is making its third straight playoff appearance and looks to advance to the semifinals for the third consecutive season. The Bantams own a slight 2-1 advantage in postseason play and defeated the Jumbos in the 2016 semifinals.
The final quarterfinal contest pits fourth-seeded Williams (13-8-3, 10-5-3 NESCAC) versus fifth-seeded Amherst (14-6-3, 9-6-3 NESCAC). The two teams split the two-game series this season and will meet for the second time in a week after the Purple & White posted a 1-0 win over the Ephs on February 17. Williams earned a 4-3 victory on its home ice on December 9. The Ephs are hosting a quarterfinal game for the fifth consecutive season and are the No. 4 seed for the second time in three years. Williams looks to return to the semifinals after missing out last season. The Purple & White, which posted a 10-game unbeaten streak in the middle of the season, have played in the last three championship games and are looking to make it four straight with a victory over Williams. The rivals have met five times in the postseason, the last time in the 2015 championship game, as Amherst owns a 4-1 advantage in the series.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.