Men’s D-III Playoff Preview: Bowdoin

Bowdoin Polar Bears
Tournament Qualification: NESCAC Automatic Qualifier
NCAA Tournament Profile: fourth NCAA tournament appearance, last appearance — 2010 (quarterfinal round loss to Oswego, 9-2)
Best NCAA Finish: quarterfinalists — 2000, 2010
Road to NCAA Championship: win, 5-2, vs. Williams, (NESCAC championship game), win, 3-1, vs. Colby, (NESCAC semifinals), win 4-3 (OT), vs. Amherst, (NESCAC quarterfinals)

Team Statistics
Overall Record: 18-7-1, 11-7-1 NESCAC (Fifth)
SOG: 34.8 per game
Opponents’ SOG: 30.7 per game
Power Play: 32.2 percent
Penalty Kill: 87.1 percent
Offense: 4.07 goals per game
Defense: 3.13 goals per game

Scoring Leaders
Daniel Weiniger, (So.) — 20 goals, 22 assists, 42 points
Kyle shearer-Hardy (Sr.) — 9 goals, 27 assists, 36 points
Jeff Fanning (Sr.) — 20 goals, 7 assists, 27 points
Colin Downey (Fr.) — 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points

Steve Messina (Fr.) — 2.95 goals against average, .893 save percentage

Following Sunday’s exhilarating win over Williams College in the NESCAC Conference finals by a score of 5-2, the Polar Bears needed to quickly adjust to the excitement of playing on the national stage this weekend in yet another tournament.

“It was a terrific hockey game on Sunday,” said coach Terry Meagher. “I thought technically that we played a very solid game and took advantage of some situations to build on a lead. I felt Stevie [Messina] came up with some big saves when we needed them and that we showed good discipline, especially in the third period after they scored early to pull within two goals. Now we get to host a team we haven’t seen, so we are looking forward to getting film tomorrow but worry more about continuing to play our game.”

The battle between Neumann and Bowdoin will be one of contrasting styles, as both teams approach the game differently in their style of play. The home team has the luxury of avoiding a nearly 500-mile bus trip, and that is something that the Polar Bears are very happy about.

“I don’t know how we would have done it the other way,” said Meagher. “It seems like we haven’t been home for a month, so that becomes tough on the kids with their studies, but we are happy to host our first NCAA game ever in our new rink and the place should be really a great atmosphere to watch two good teams battle.”

For any team to have one 20-goal scorer is impressive at any level of college hockey, but Bowdoin is very fortunate to have two. Senior Jeff Fanning and sophomore Daniel Weiniger each hit the 20-goal plateau in Sunday’s win over Williams. Add in the offensive talent of senior defenseman Kyle Shearer-Hardy, and the Polar Bears have a potent offensive troika whenever they are on the ice, especially with the man advantage.

“Kyle, Daniel and Jeff have all had a terrific season for us this year, and certainly earned all accolades for their performance on the ice. We will need them and the remaining members of the team to play well on Wednesday in order to advance on in the tournament.”

Freshmen Colin Downey and Henry Matheson have contributed 10 and 13 goals respectively in surpassing 20 points each in their first season at Bowdoin.   Their offensive output provides more depth to a Bowdoin attack that has averaged 4.38 goals-per-game against the opposition.

“We don’t have any time to change much about how we play for this game,” said Meagher. “We really will focus on executing our game plan and making adjustments based on things we see from them that may impact us a bit during the contest.”

Freshman goalie Steve Messina will have the task of holding the Neumann Knights off the scoreboard after assuming the number one role entering the conference tournament. The young goaltender has been impressive when it has counted the most, and will be relied on to again make key saves as he did against Colby and Williams in the NESCAC final four.

“Stevie has played well and you can see he is going to be a good goaltender for us here at Bowdoin,” noted Meagher. “He is such a competitor, and has been very focused but loose over the past few weeks. I expect he, like the rest of the team, is excited about the opportunity we have on our home ice on Wednesday. I know he will be ready to go.”

“This is really exciting for Bowdoin to play at home in the NCAAs,” said Meagher. “I think it’s a great reward for the season the team has had to play in front of a great crowd and with a chance to advance in the tournament. We know we will need to play well, and really are looking forward to the opportunity to showcase our program on the national level.”