The Hamilton College men's hockey team will host the semifinal and final rounds of the NESCAC Championship after beating Bowdoin College 4-2 Saturday afternoon at Russell Sage Rink.
The semifinals will be held Saturday, March 4 at Sage Rink. Hamilton will face seventh-seeded Wesleyan (a 5-4 winner over Colby in quarterfinal action) in one semifinal with third-seeded Trinity taking on Williams in the other. Trinity beat sixth-seeded Tufts 4-1 and fourth-seeded Williams defeated fifth-seeded Amherst 2-1 in Saturday's other quarterfinals.
With just 25 seconds left in the second, Tyler Bruneteau '18 netted the game winner. Truman Landowski '17 carried the puck over the blue line along the left-side boards then passed to Bruneteau in the high slot. Bruneteau scored his ninth goal of the winter on a wrist shot.Saturday's semifinal winners will meet in Sunday's NESCAC Championship final with the league's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs at stake.
The Continentals (18-3-4), the top seed in the NESCAC postseason tournament, stretched their winning streak to six with Saturday's quarterfinal victory.
Jason Brochu '19 scored twice for the hosts — putting Hamilton ahead to stay early in the second period and sealing the victory with an empty-net goal.
After the teams traded early goals in an opening period that ended 1-1, the Continentals took the lead for good on Brochu's 11th goal of the season. On a Hamilton rush, a pass from Rory Gagnon '19 in the left circle was deflected to Brochu for a one-timer from the right side of the slot. Sterling Bray '20 picked up his 11th assist (third on the team) on the play.
Evan Buitenhuis '18 finished with 25 saves to earn the win, stopping 13 shots in the third period when Bowdoin (8-16-1) outshot the Continentals 14-6.
Ronnie Lestan and Neil Conway '18 traded goals in the opening seven minutes.
Lestan put the Polar Bears ahead 4:02 into play with his third goal of the year. Matthew Lison picked up by a loose puck above the right circle and took a shot that Lestan collected below the right circle then wristed into the net.
The Continentals tied the score on their first power play opportunity. Conway passed to Bruneteau at the bottom of the left circle then took the return pass, skated from the left circle across the slot to the right circle the scored on a wrist shot after faking a couple shots. Conway's goal was his eighth of the season; he leads Hamilton with 24 points.
Brochu netted his 12th goal of the — tying for the team lead — with 74 seconds left after Bowdoin had pulled Peter Cronin for an extra skater. He intercepted a centering pass in his defensive end and flipped the puck high into the air, where it bounced and rolled into Bowdoin's empty net.
Matt Sullivan won the ensuing faceoff and picked up the loose puck along right-side boards, skated into the zone and scored from the right circle.
Cronin finished with 27 saves for the Polar Bears, who were making their 17th straight postseason appearance, won the ensuing faceoff and Matt Sullivan cut Hamilton's lead to two goals with his seventh goal of the season.
Hamilton is ranked eighth in both national polls.