The coaches and players of the Williams College men's hockey team are on pins and needles this week, waiting to see if they will get one of the three at-large slots in the NCAA Division III tournament. But for some of the Ephs, it was still a pretty good week.
Williams defenseman Zander Masucci was named the NESCAC player of the year, and head coach Bill Kangas was named coach of the year.
Freshman goalie Michael Pinios, meanwhile, is sharing the rookie of the year award with Bowdoin's Cody Todesco.
Masucci, a senior defenseman from Far Hills, N.J., is the first Williams skater to earn the player of the year award since Alex Smigelski did so in 2010.
Masucci, whose older brother Matt also played at Williams, is the top scoring defenseman in NESCAC with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. He helped lead a defense that gave up only 1.50 goals a game in NESCAC conference play.
The Eph defenseman is the first D-man since 2011 to be named player of the year. That season, Hamilton's Joe Houk earned the honor.
Masucci's skill on defense helped Pinios earn co-Rookie of the Year. The goalie from Montreal is the No. 1 goalie in NESCAC with a 1.62 goals-against average, and he is fifth with a .940 save percentage. No Williams player has been named a Rookie of the Year.
Pinios was also a second-team, All-NESCAC selection along with his Williams teammate, forward Tyler Young.
The Coach-of-the-Year award for Kangas is his second. He shared the award with Colby's Jim Tortorella in 2006. Kangas' team that year went 14-7-3 and 13-3-3 in the conference, earning the No. 2 seed.
This year, Williams was 18-5-2 and 14-2-2. The Ephs were No. 5 in the nation in the USCHO.com national poll and No. 2 in the East Region.
As to the NCAA Tournament, Kangas and his players will watch intently this weekend as the seven Pool A conferences determine their league championships.
The good news for Williams is that the bubble remains pretty large because the top seeds are playing in six of the seven tournaments, some in the final and most still in the semifinal round. Other than NESCAC, where eighth-seeded Tufts upset top-seeded Williams last week, no team lower than No. 5 is in a semifinal. Most semifinals involve the top four seeds in a league.
Once the tournaments are done, the Ephs — and the rest of Division III hockey — will turn to their computers to watch the NCAA selection show on Monday at 10:30 a.m. The first round of the NCAA Tournament will be played on Saturday, March 12.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.