Williams college hockey players skate

Williams hockey lost to Wesleyan on Friday night. 

The Williams College men's hockey team had a chance Friday night to build a bit of a cushion in the NESCAC standings. Visiting Wesleyan had other ideas. 

The Cardinals scored two goals in just over two minutes late in the second period and then clamped down defensively to keep the Ephs off the board in a 3-0 win at Lansing Chapman Rink.

It was a rematch of a game at Middletown, Conn., back on Jan. 9. In that game, the Ephs scored six unanswered goals for a 6-1 win.

There would be no such puck luck on Friday night. While Williams did have a 24-18 shot advantage in the game, Cardinals goalie Marc Smith stopped all 24 for his second shutout of the season. Smith was also victimized by the six-goal outburst in January.

"They've been on a roll," Williams coach Bill Kangas said, of the Cardinals, who have now won three straight. "Wesleyan played well last week and built on last weekend's results. They beat Amherst away and Hamilton away, so they've been playing some pretty good hockey."

So has Williams, who took to the Lansing Chapman ice having won their last two games.

"I thought we had some chances in the first and second [periods] with a couple of flurries," Kangas said in a phone interview with The Eagle after the game. "I just think you have to capitalize on some of your chances. We didn't. We had a couple of errors that led to their two goals.

"Give them credit. They put pressure on us on those couple of goals. It's not like we didn't have a chance. Their goalie played well and it's a game of opportunities. We just couldn't score on ours and they did on theirs."

After a scoreless first period, it was looking like the teams would retreat to their locker rooms in that scoreless tie. But at 16:20, the Wesleyan line of Stevie O'Connor, Go Uemura and Colin Cobb struck. Cobb found Uemura down low and he top-shelfed a shot that eluded Eph goalie Cal Sandquist. O'Connor got the second assist on the play.

Exactly 2 minutes, 7 seconds later, Cobb set up Jake Lachance for an insurance goal. At the end of two, it was 2-0.

The third period was a tight-checking stanza, and Williams managed only four shots on goal. Even with Sandquist pulled for the final 1:40, the Ephs could not put one behind Smith.

It was a hard-luck loss for Sandquist, who has been shut out twice in his starts.

"He's played very well all the way through," Kangas said of his first-year goalie. "He played very well [in a win] at Conn. College last week. He's been playing really good hockey. I'm very confident in him, as we are confident in all of our goalies. I thought he played exceptionally well again today. You've got to score more than zero to have a chance, unless the game is tied 0-0. He's kept us in it. He made some key saves at key times. We have to be able to put one in."

The Ephs had chances in the first and second period, outshooting the Cardinals 11-6. The best chance came with 7:12 left when left wing Owen Stadheim got the puck behind the cage, skated around and tried to tuck the puck in at the right post. Smith held the corner and kept Williams off the scoreboard. 

The win puts Wesleyan ahead in its goal to win a Little Three championship. The Cardinals swept Amherst and split with Williams for a 3-1 record. Williams is 2-1 with the Wesleyan split and a win at home over Amherst. The Ephs will close the season at Amherst on Feb. 19.

If Williams wins, the Ephs and Cardinals would share the Little Three title. It would be the first time there was a two-way tie since Williams and Amherst tied in 2014-15. Wesleyan has never shared the Little Three with one team. The Cardinals were involved in a three-way tie in 2017-18.

Williams is now 9-8-0, and still has 26 points in the NESCAC standings. Wesleyan moves to 8-8-2 overall and is two points behind Williams with 24 points.

The Ephs host Trinity Saturday. The Bantams and Middlebury played to a 2-2 tie Friday night.

Wesleyan     0     2     1     —     3
Williams       0     0     0     —     0
First Period
No Scoring
Second Period
WE — Uemura (Cobb, O'Connor) 16:28. WE — Lachance (Cobb), 18:35.
Penalties — Forrest (Wi), Interference 0:38. Sutton (Wi), Roughing 12:24. Sorabella (We), Interference 12:24.
Third Period
WE — Levine (unassisted), 19:15 (EN).
Shots — Wesleyan 6-9-3 18. Williams 11-9-4 24.
Saves — Wesleyan, Marc Smith 24. Williams, Cal Sandquist 15.

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. 


Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.