WATERVILLE — Everything was in place for a memorable night in the Colby-Bowdoin hockey rivalry. Until it wasn’t.

Last season’s senior class was honored with championship rings in a pre-game ceremony. There was nary an empty seat inside Alfond Rink. Both student sections were jammed, and noisy, and even offered up a few not-fit-for-print chants and songs. And Mule sophomore Justin Grillo whacked a puck into a vacated net with 3.3 seconds remaining in overtime, eliciting a roar from the pro-Colby faithful which threatened to shake the rafters around the old barn.

But the would-be winning goal was waved off by the on-ice officiating crew, leaving Colby and Bowdoin to settle for a 3-3 tie.

“(The referee) said the puck was tied up,” Colby coach Blaise MacDonald said. “I think he was the only guy in the building who thought the puck was tied up. I thought maybe he thought we kicked it in, but his explanation was that it was tied up.”

Freshman Logan Clarke touched off the play with a rush up the right wing from deep in the neutral zone, cutting off the half wall to goal — where he got a shot off from along the inside hash marks.

The puck was stopped by Bowdoin goalie Erik Wurman, where Grillo followed up by flipping it home for what appeared to be the winning goal.

“It was there,” Grillo said. “Just unlucky, but we did the right thing. We weren’t looking for a pretty goal, we were just looking for a tap-in or something. Maybe next time.”

Bowdoin College’s Kyle Jadatz (21) checks Colby College’s Justin Grillo (8) into the referee at Colby College in Waterville on Saturday.

Colby (1-2-2 overall) still managed to extend its unbeaten streak against its fiercest rival to five games after sweeping a pair of meetings between the two in each of the previous two seasons. Bowdoin (2-3-1) was backed by a tremendous 41-save performance from Wurman, who remained unbeaten in three starts this year.

Twice Colby rallied back from one-goal deficits, through goals from Michael Morrissey and Grillo, before senior Nick O’Connor’s third goal of the season handed the Mules a 3-2 lead with under eight minutes remaining in regulation.

Despite outshooting the visitors by a 44-19 count and winning 69 percent of the face-offs on the night, Colby couldn’t see the lead through to its first New England Small College Athletic Conference win of the young season. Instead, Cody Todesco’s second goal of the game knotted the score with just 4:29 remaining in regulation.

Bowdoin mustered only three third-period shots, scoring on two of them against Andrew Tucci (16 saves). Todesco handed Bowdoin a 2-1 lead 62 seconds after the second intermission, when a shot from the point was blocked in front and caromed straight to him at the right post. On his tying goal late in the frame, a breakdown in defensive zone coverage allowed Polar Bear defenseman Sam Topham to make a pass straight up the gut from the left point to the bottom of the opposite circle where Todesco was unchecked to deposit it into the net.

“We just have to simplify the game,” O’Connor said. “We’re going to get hemmed in sometimes, that’s obvious. We just have to simplify our game, pack it in and get back to basics when teams are hemming us in like that.”

Bowdoin scored the only goal of the opening period, on a goal similar to Todesco’s first one.

Colby College’s Brendan Murphy (12) hits the ice in front of Bowdoin College goalie Erik Wurman (35) with the help of teammate Patrick Ault (33) at Colby College in Waterville on Saturday.

Collin Van der Veen was on the spot to deposit a rebound at 8:28 off a Michael Brown shot.

With assists to Kienan Scott and Spencer Hewson, Morrissey’s third in as many games made it 1-1 late in the second. For Scott, who led Colby in scoring last season, it marked his first point of this campaign.

Grillo tied the game at 2-2 with a beautiful shot from the left circle, beating Wurman off the far post with Colby’s second power play goal of the night midway through the third period.

“We just couldn’t quite get the bounces they did, but I thought we played really well in all three phases,” MacDonald said of what he called his team’s best game of the season. “We’re dominated by the process and just aware of the results. Simply aware.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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