WILLIAMSTOWN — As the Williams College men's hockey team heads into the final weekend of the regular season, it's on a pretty good roll.
Williams will host Amherst and Hamilton Saturday and Sunday to close out the regular campaign, and will do so riding a seven-game winning streak. The last four of those seven wins came after Williams had to rally from a two-goal deficit to win each one. That is a streak the Ephs would like to end.
"As a team, you never want to go down [two goals], especially four times in a row. It speaks to our team and it speaks to our resiliency," said Williams captain Zander Masucci. "Every time we've gone down a goal or two, we've been relaxed. We know what it takes to come back, and that's hard work.
"One of the focuses [at practice] this week is to try to get out to a hot start."
Williams (17-4-1, 13-2-1 in NESCAC) heads into the final regular-season weekend with a three-point lead over Trinity (16-5-1, 12-4-0) in conference play. While Williams plays Amherst and Hamilton, Trinity has a home-and-home with Wesleyan. Williams needs one point to clinch home ice throughout the NESCAC Tournament. The Bantams need to sweep Wesleyan, while Williams gets swept, in order to take the top spot for the regular season.
The comebacks started on Feb. 5, when the Ephs went down 2-0 after one period at Trinity but won 5-4 in overtime. The next day, Wesleyan led 2-0 after one, but Williams won 4-3. It happened against in a home-and-home with Middlebury. Williams trailed 3-1 after two periods in the first game, winning 5-4 in OT. Then the Ephs fell behind 2-0 in the middle of the second period but came back to win 3-2.
"It's definitely nothing you want to make a habit of. I think the Trinity game, when we were down two goals, we remembered being down two goals before to them, and we had the belief that we could come back," said Colby Cretella, who got the game winner against Middlebury at Lansing Chapman Rink. "It's just the belief we have.
"Obviously, it's a bad habit and we want to kick that."
Masucci got it started by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime at Trinity. Roberto Cellini and Alex Hagarty also got game winners in that four-game streak.
Cretella is the reigning NESCAC player of the week after scoring a goal and an assist in each of the wins over Middlebury. He's the third consecutive Eph to win, with Cellini and Tyler Young preceding him. Goalie Michael Pinios was also a player-of-the-week award winner.
Williams' most recent highest seed in the NESCAC tournament was a No. 2 back in 2013, when the Ephs lost to top-seed Bowdoin. Last year, Williams earned a trip to the NESCAC final as a No. 4 seed, but lost to No. 2 Amherst 1-0. Williams has never been the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC tourney.
"We're really trying to stay focused" on the next game, said Cretella. "We have a big four points coming up this weekend. We want to secure home ice and secure the No. 1 seed this weekend."