Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans Colby’s Brendan Murphy (12) ends up in the goal on top of Middlebury goalie Brian Ketchabaw during a November 16 game at Alfond Rink in Waterville.

WATERVILLE — Last season, Colby College’s hockey team was one of the least penalized in the entire country. Last weekend, penalties were the Mules’ undoing in a would-be win against Williams College.

Colby’s 3-1 second period lead evaporated Saturday as the Ephs finished off a 2 for 6 afternoon on the power play, having scored a goal in the first minute of the final frame en route to a 4-3 win. Penalties, all agreed, were game-changers.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties,” Colby senior center Nick O’Connor said. “We weren’t too disciplined, and that kind of took the momentum out of our sails and threw it right into theirs. That’s what did us in.”

Colby coach Blaise MacDonald, whose team returns to action this weekend in the annual non-conference Bowdoin/Colby Faceoff Classic, lamented the costly infractions. The Mules appeared to have rebounded from a lackluster Friday night effort in the season opener against Middlebury — a 4-1 loss — before letting Williams seize control late.

“It’s a self-inflicted wound that we have to manage,” MacDonald said. “We really focused on wall battles, puck battles, and I think we did a much better job (against Williams). … But we’re killing a penalty again, and it’s crazy to take those penalties there.”

At just 7.6 penalty minutes per game last season, Colby ranked 79th of 81 NCAA Division III teams. Staying out of the box allowed the Mules the ability roll through their lineup’s depth and wear teams down en route to becoming the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s top scoring offense.

With a young and inexperienced defensive corps this season, staying out of the penalty box takes on a different significance. Killing penalties puts those same young players under duress more often, and allows good offensive teams like Williams to take advantage.

Colby’s Robert Cerepak (20) checks Middlebury’s Michael Fahie in to the boards during a November 16 game at Alfond Rink in Waterville. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“I don’t see it becoming an issue,” O’Connor said. “We are a disciplined team. It’s very uncharacteristic for us to take those penalties — especially the lazy stick penalties. I can definitely see us ridding that out of our game.”

Colby plays Potsdam Saturday afternoon at Bowdoin’s Sid Watson Arena before returning home to host Wentworth at Alfond Rink on Sunday.

• • •

University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after making 79 saves in a series split at Boston University last weekend.

Saturday’s 3-1 Black Bear win seemed to follow the team’s recipe for success. Backed by a couple of goals early in the game, Swayman made 40 saves to preserve the victory.

Maine hosts No. 10 Quinnipiac (9-2-0) this weekend at Alfond with games Friday and Saturday nights. Quinnipiac ranks inside the top 10 nationally in both goals and goals allowed per game.

The Bobcats, heading to Orono off a weekend sweep of ECAC foes Cornell and Colgate, are led by their blue line. Four of the team’s top seven scorers — including the top two — are defensemen. Senior Chase Priskie has eight goals and 14 points, with four of his goals coming on the power play.

Special teams could be a difficult obstacle for Maine (4-5-1) this weekend. The Black Bears remain the nation’s most penalized team at 20 minutes per game, while the Bobcats have the nation’s fifth-best power play at 26.4 percent effectiveness.

• • •

The Colby women’s hockey team opened its campaign with a sweep of rival Bowdoin last weekend.

The Mules won the weekend opener 3-1 at home on Saturday before wrapping up with a 3-2 overtime win over the Polar Bears in Brunswick on Sunday. Six different Mules have recorded goals already this season, including sophomore Lauren Klein with the overtime winner in the second game.

Sophomore goalie Cierra San Roman made 26 saves in game one, while freshman Nina Prunster stopped 25 in the overtime win.

After having Tuesday’s scheduled game at the University of Southern Maine postponed by weather, Colby hosts Hamilton in a two-game NESCAC set Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.) at Alfond Rink.

• • •

The Bowdoin men dropped a 7-1 decision at No. 8 University of New England on Tuesday night. The Nor’Easters broke a 1-1 tie with four power play goals on a single five-minute major late in the second period.

Biddeford’s Brady Fleurent, the nation’s leading scorer in Division III as a junior last season, had two of those power play goals as part of a five-point night. Fleurent has 5-9-14 totals in seven games this season.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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