Courtesy Hamilton Sports Information
CLINTON, N.Y. - Jason Brochu scored the opening goal and the overtime-winner, to help lift Hamilton past the visiting Williams College Ephs, 4-3, in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 NESCAC Men's Ice Hockey Championship at Hamilton's Russell Sage Rink.
Hamilton (13-9-3 overall) entered the championship as the fourth-seed, which it earned by defeating Williams, 4-2, in the final game of the regular season. The fifth-seeded Ephs conclude their season with a 14-9-2 overall record.
Just over nine minutes into the first sudden-victory overtime period, Sean Allen gathered the puck behind Hamilton's net and fired a pass straight up the middle of the ice to Brochu in the neutral zone. Brochu split the defenders for a breakaway and blasted a shot that bounced off the inside of Michael Pinios' (29 saves) left leg and Brochu watched the puck flip across the goal line at 9:11.
Brochu gave Hamilton a 1-0 lead with 1:23 left to play in the first period. Ian Nichols broke the puck out of Hamilton's end and skated all the way up the right side of the boards. Nichols crossed the blue line and dropped a pass back to Allen. Allen immediately returned the puck and Nichols found Brochu in the high slot. Brochu skated down to the left faceoff dot and clanged the puck off the back post and into the goal.
The Ephs evened the score 8:08 into the second stanza when Nick VanBelle scored on the power play. Roberto Cellini passed across the point to Jack McCool for a shot on net, and VanBelle deflected the puck into the opposite corner of the goal.
Wyatt Glover then gave Williams a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. Niko Karamanis cleared the puck along the left side of the boards to Glover skating through the neutral zone. Glover turned the corner around the Hamilton defender for a free shot on Anthony Tirabassi (47 saves) and slipped the puck inside the right post with 4:30 left in the second.
Williams' Myles Cunningham headed to the penalty box just 1:06 into the third period and 36 seconds later Hamilton capitalized on the power-play opportunity. Sterling Bray fed the puck to Bennett Morrison on the point. Pinios denied Morrison's initial shot, but gave up a rebound right to Jon Beniers who wasted no time finding the back of the net to tie the score 2-2.
At 11:46 in the third, Joey Moore returned the lead to the Continentals. Moore won the faceoff to the right of Pinios, delivering the puck to Nick Ursitti. Ursitti evaded the defense and dished the puck back to Moore for a one-timer that found its way into the upper-left corner of the nylon.
During the final minutes of the third, Pinios began skating to the bench to give Williams an extra attacker but before he left the ice, Marcus Mollica tied the game 3-3 with 1:20 on the clock. Tirabassi stopped the initial screened shot from the left point, but the rebound bounced to Mollica who hammered the puck into the net.
The Continentals advance to the semifinals, hosted by Trinity next weekend, and will face-off against the top-seeded Bantams on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.