WATERVILLE — Sean Lawrence wanted more ice time. Against one of the nation’s top teams, the junior goaltender made the time he got on Friday night count.

Lawrence, a midseason transfer from Quinnipiac University, made 28 saves to backstop Colby College to a 1-0 win over seventh-ranked Hamilton College in a New England Small College Athletic Conference game at Alfond Rink. The shutout was the first of the season for the Mules (9-5-4 overall), and the first career shutout for Lawrence, who spent two years as a backup at Quinnipiac before coming to Colby during the semester break.

“It was about winning,” Lawrence said of leaving a program that went to the NCAA Division I Frozen Four last season. “Coming into the year, I thought I was going to be the starter at Quinnipiac, but things didn’t shake out that way. Obviously, I wasn’t getting the ice time I really wanted over there. Coming here, I wanted to take whatever ice time I could get and help the guys win.”

Lawrence’s first shutout came just six days after allowing seven goals in a start against the University of New England, Colby’s only loss in its last eight games.

“I thought last week was tough,” Lawrence admitted. “I thought the guys played good, but it was one of those games where pucks were going in. It was a little frustrating, especially letting the guys down. But we bounced back and rolled into today and played one of our best games of the year.”

“You have games like that,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald added. “It was just one of those things. (Sean’s) got very good habits, and he’s got a lot of talent to start with. I knew he’d have a big bounce-back.”

Colby’s Phil Klitirinos scored the game’s only goal on a breakaway just 59 seconds into the first period. The goal stood up as all the Mules needed to hand Hamilton (12-3-4) its third loss in its last six games. The Continentals are just 1-3-2 during that stretch.

“We always preach to come out hard and come out strong and try to play with the lead as much as possible,” said Klitirinos, whose seventh goal of the season tied Nick O’Connor for the team lead. “Anytime you can play with the lead, it obviously helps. You’re not worried about other things.”

Hamilton’s speed did create problems at times for Colby, particularly in the third period. After the Mules couldn’t capitalize on a long 4-on-3 power play early in the frame, Hamilton ramped up the pressure. The Continentals hemmed the Mules in their zone for nearly three full minutes midway through the period but Lawrence stood his ground.

He made a great save in traffic on defenseman Bennett Morrison’s drive, holding onto the rebound to set up a face-off and a much-needed line change for the Mules. With just over five minutes to go, Lawrence turned in a point-blank stop on Brandon Willett from the low slot area.

MacDonald said that one of Lawrence’s best assets between the pipes is his ability to read the game in front of him.

“He was very effective in calming us down, exiting some pucks for us and getting them out of the zone,” MacDonald said. “That’s his ability. We’re confident in him. He gives us that sense of certainty.”

Then, in the final minute and a half of regulation, with Hamilton goalie Evan Buitenhuis (20 saves) pulled for an extra attacker while the Continentals were on the power play, Lawrence turned in his best work when the Mules needed it most. He stonewalled Neil Conway at the left post with 11 seconds remaining and then somehow kept the puck out of the net with just 0.8 seconds showing on the clock after Conway thought he had Lawrence beat once more.

“I didn’t really see the puck. I just dove,” Lawrence said. “I think a couple of the guys got there behind me. Luckily someone was there to keep it out. I don’t know who got it, but that’s fine with me, as long as it doesn’t go in.”

With the win, Colby leapfrogged its way over Hamilton into second in the NESCAC standings, two points behind Williams.

“Hamilton is very, very good. They’ve got a lot of talent there,” MacDonald said. “I liked how we valued the fight and we relished the close game.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC