Williams men's hockey tops Wesleyan to cap stellar weekend
WILLIAMSTOWN — To call the weekend that just ended a good one for the Williams College men's hockey team would be an understatement.
The 13th-ranked Ephs had a four-point NESCAC weekend, knocking off No. 7 and defending NCAA Division III champion Trinity 3-2 on Saturday night before coming back Sunday afternoon to beat Wesleyan 3-1 at Lansing Chapman Rink.
Saturday night, Williams scored three goals in three minutes to rally from a 2-0 deficit. On Sunday, Greg Zaffino's goal at 17:19 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie. Colby Cretella added an empty-net goal in the last minute.
Freshman goalie Michael Pinios earned wins in both games. The Montreal native gave up a goal in the first period to the Cardinals, but was solid the rest of the way.
"We came here with a plan, especially against Trinity, the defending national champions. We had to play them hard. I thought we played them great," said Pinios. "We were super-resilient and came back and scored three goals in three minutes.
"Today, we were down early, but we dominated the last two periods. I'm super-happy with the team and excited to continue."
Pinios made 25 saves on 26 shots. He only faced one shot in the second period. It was the first time this year he had played in back-to-back games. Pinios and Noah Klug had taken turns since the season started.
"We just made the decision to start [Pinios] yesterday. We thought he played well," said Williams coach Bill Kangas. "We decided to go with him, probably late in the night, we decided to go with him [Sunday].
"We'll see what happens this coming week with Manhattanville and Plattsburgh, but I thought he had a good weekend."
Alex Hagerty's second goal of the season, second goal of his career and second goal in less than 24 hours, tied the game in the second period. It appeared the Ephs were destined for overtime, and maybe a sixth tie for the Cardinals. But Zaffino had other plans.
With the clock winding down in the third period, Williams had the puck in the Wesleyan zone. Zaffino got the puck at the right point and shot toward the net. The puck appeared to hit a Wesleyan defender because it deflected up and seemed to surprise goalie Dawson Sprigings.
"Their winger wasn't really covering me, so there was some space there. I called for it and got it," said Zaffino. "I was actually looking to hit Alex Hagerty's stick. I think it just hit off something on the way in and got by the goalie."
The win was the third straight for Williams (8-3-1, 6-1-1 in NESCAC). Wesleyan had come into the game winless, but was a really tough conference out as the Cardinals (0-7-5, 0-2-4) had come into the game with one NESCAC loss and four ties.
"We knew we played a really good team [Saturday]. We look at ourselves as a pretty good team. When you play games, you can't look beyond the team you're playing," said Kangas. "There are so many good teams.
"Wesleyan came out, had a really good first period and had us on our heels a little bit."
Williams got on its heels at 3:47 of the first period when James Kline stuffed the puck under Pinios and it trickled across the goal line. Pinios' St. Paul School teammate Cam McCusker got the primary assist on the play.
Saturday night, Williams trailed 2-0 at 11:16 of the second period. By the 14:13 mark, Williams had three goals and held on to beat No. 7 Trinity.
"It was a big weekend. Obviously Trinity was a big win, but I think it was really great that we didn't let down against Wesleyan," said Zaffino. "We stayed focus and completed the weekend which was huge."
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