Men's hockey makes NESCAC title game after beating Wesleyan, 5-1

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Colby College advanced to its first New England Small College Athletic Conference men's hockey title game and enacted some revenge on Wesleyan University in a 5-1 semifinal contest on Saturday at Trinity College.

The Mules, now 4-0-2 in their last six games, will play sixth-ranked and defending NESCAC champion Trinity in the title game Sunday at 2 p.m. The Bantams won 5-2 in their semifinal against Williams after falling behind 2-0. The game will be broadcast on the Northeast Sports Network at https://www.nsnsports.net/c olleges/colby/
 
Blaise MacDonald, Colby's Jack Kelley Head Coach of Men's Hockey, also earned his 300th career win as a head coach. He hopes to make it 301 on Sunday.
 
"This was an entire team effort, but Spencer Hewson really set the tone with two big goals and Sean Lawrence stood tall all game in goal." MacDonald said. "The guys played with poise and determination all game and it was nice to score early in the third and getting that fourth goal was huge." 
 
The 2017-18 team will carry the hopes of former Colby men's hockey players who came so close to making the title game. Since the NESCAC started a playoff system in the 2000-01 season, Colby had made seven appearances in the semifinals without taking the next step to the final.
 
"We definitely feel a sense of community with the alumni that we as seniors have played with and those from the past," Colby tri-captain Phil Klitirinos said. "Our Colby hockey alumni is so strong and important to all of us in the locker room. Ultimately, we have one more game to win for each other in the locker room, for Colby hockey alums, and our school as a whole."
 
The Mules lost to Wesleyan in a NESCAC quarterfinal game at Alfond Rink last year. Colby was 0-1-1 against the Cardinals (13-8-5 overall) this season. The tie was part of the current unbeaten streak after Colby (14-10-2) had dropped to 10-10 overall.
 
"I think the biggest part of the turnaround was our habits in practice, the last month our practices have been loud, crisp, and enthusiastic," Klitirinos said. "Our team is simply having a lot of fun right now, which is awesome. I think it goes without saying that Sean is a huge part of our team and we could not be more confident with him in the net."
 
Game highlights
* Lawrence once again showed why he is one of the top goaltenders in Division III with 39 saves. He has allowed just seven goals in the last six games. Included in that streak was a 3-0 home win over Trinity.
 
* Senior tri-captain Dan Dupont had his shot tipped in by Hewson for Colby at 3:51 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Klitirinos had the other assist on the play for his 18th of the season.
 
* Wesleyan tied the game at 1-1 at 14:40 of the first period on a five-on-three power play. Sean Ross scored off a rebound from a shot by Chad Malinowski.
 
* Colby had all the goals from that point, including the game-winning score from Hewson at 17:15 of the opening period. His slap shot went upper right and glanced off the goal post. Nick O'Connor assisted and All-NESCAC defenseman Michael Decker had his 15th assist.
 
* After a scoreless second period, Kienan Scott gave the Mules some breathing room at 3-1 just 50 seconds into the final period. He was on the left hand side and his wrist shot went into the upper part of the goal on the far side. Decker and Andrew Reis had assists on the score.
 
* Cam MacDonald all but clinched the victory with his 13th goal of the season with 9:14 to play. He skated past a Wesleyan defenseman and ripped a shot past Sestak. Justin Grillo and Mark Leprine had assists.
 
* The Mules scored on a 5-on-3 power play of their own with 5:03 remaining. Klitirinos scored his eighth of the season off a rebound from a shot by O'Connor. Hewson had the secondary assist.
 
By the numbers
* Lawrence improved to 13-7-2 this season with 15 saves in the first period, 14 in the second, and 10 more in the third.
 
* Sestak stopped 34 shots for the Cardinals. 
 
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