Clinton, N.Y. – Senior captain Sean Orlando (Ivyland, Pa.) fired the puck past Williams goalie Michael Pinios (Laval, Quebec) off a rebound to give the Trinity College men's hockey team a 3-2 lead with 1:36 to play as the Bantams defeated the Ephs, 4-2, in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Hockey Championship Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Russell Sage Rink at Hamilton College. The Bantams, the No. 3-seed in the tournament and No. 11-ranked team in the country, improve to 17-6-3 overall and move on to tomorrow's championship game at 2 p.m. against the winner of the other semifinal matchup this afternoon between the top-seeded Continentals and No. 7-seed Wesleyan University.
Trinity scored four unanswered goals in the victory after falling behind, 2-0, early. Trinity outshot the Ephs, 37-28, in this winter's rubber match between the two schools after both sides split the regular-season series. Despite the two early blemishes, Bantam junior goalie Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) held strong down the stretch, finishing with 26 saves on the day. Pinios tallied 33 stops for the Ephs.
Williams jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 8:06 into the first period thanks to a goal by Alex Hagerty (New Vernon, N.J.). The Ephs won a faceoff in Trinity's defensive zone after an icing call, which led to a loose puck bouncing out to senior Taylor Carmola (Spencerport, N.Y.) at the blue-line, who sent slapshot flying towards net. Hagerty, who was camped out just in front of Morin, tipped Carmola's shot to redirect it into the back of the net. With 8:20 left to play in the period, Williams senior Luke Stickel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored on a one-timer, via a pass from C.J. Shugart (Toronto, Ontario), to open up a 2-0 lead for the Ephs.
Senior Ryan Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) ended the shutout, just 1:25 after Stickel's goal to cut the deficit to one. Trinity junior Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklerville, N.J.) skated behind Williams' net with the puck, drawing Pinios to the pipe to prevent a shot from Sabitsky. Sabitsky instead fed Cole, who cut to the back-side post and flicked the puck into goal with Pinios out of position. A Williams tripping penalty with 2:11 left in the opening frame preceded Trinity's second goal of the game. Bantam rookie Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) flipped a backhander past the glove of Pinios with just 13 seconds left on the power play, assisted by senior Brandon Cole (Anchorage, Alaska) and senior captain Ethan Holdaway (Glastonbury, Conn.), to cap off the high-scoring first period and send the game into the first intermission tied at 2-2.
After a scoreless second period, the Bantams scored twice in the final 101 seconds of the third period to move on to tomorrow's championship game and defend last year's title. With Trinity moving the puck into the Williams zone, senior captain Sam Johnson (Dallas, Texas) fired a slapshot wide-right of the net that bounced off the back boards and to Orlando who was there to clean up the miss. Orlando snapped a wrister past Pinios off the rebound for his 17th goal of the season to give Trinity its first lead of the game. The Ephs then pulled Pinios from goal, gaining an extra skater, however Holdaway iced the game for the Bantams with 12 seconds remaining by scoring his eighth goal of the season with the empty net.