WATERVILLE — It’s Colby-Bowdoin week, which means one of the nation’s best college hockey rivalries is expected to play out Saturday night in front of a raucous capacity crowd at venerable Alfond Rink. Typically with these affairs, you can throw the records out.

That’s certainly what the Mules would like to do.

Two losses last weekend to begin the season put Colby (0-2-0) behind the 8-ball to begin the New England Small College Athletic Conference season, but the Mules — while frustrated — were hardly disappointed.

“There was certainly a lot more I liked about the weekend than I didn’t like,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. “It gives you an opportunity to get some live game film, see what guys are maybe gamers and starts giving you a feel for the dimension of your team.”

The Mules took a five-and-half-hour bus ride on the day of the game in a 4-1 loss to Williams, a contest in which the Ephs scored three times in a six-minute span in the second period to take control after trailing by a goal through 20 minutes. On Saturday at Middlebury, Colby outshot their hosts but ended up blanked, 3-0.

Junior captain Brendan Murphy, who scored the only goal of the weekend for Colby, echoed his coach’s belief that the Mules did plenty of good over the two games. They simply didn’t win.


“I think we showed a lot of really good habits, a lot of really good stuff to build upon,” Murphy said. “First weekend, sometimes you just don’t get those bounces. That happens. We’re still really optimistic about this weekend and the rest of the season.”

If there were two areas of concern for Colby it came in the lack of scoring and its special teams play. The forward group was expected to be a dynamic one for the Mules this season, and the team’s power play went a combined 0 for 9 across the two games.

Still there is little time to dwell on what might have been, or what might have been better, for Colby last weekend. There’s only one game on the docket this week, and it’s Saturday night’s Bowdoin tilt.

“With the feeling in the locker room after (Middlebury) that we played really good hockey, it’s immediately,” Murphy said of how quickly the team can turn the page. “Our team’s really good in the sense that we respond really fast to adversity. We know what we did well, we know what we didn’t do well, so we talk about it and we wipe the slate and get ready to attack the next game.”

Barring a NESCAC quarterfinal pairing between the Mules and Polar Bears in late February, Saturday will be the final Colby-Bowdoin game played at Alfond Rink as the school is set to open its new athletic center — complete with a brand new ice arena — next fall. Alfond Rink was built in 1970.

An enormous gathering of Colby hockey alumni is expected, including nearly 60 former players who have signed up to play in an alumni game Friday. It is expected to be a celebration of Colby hockey’s history, and the crowd for the game is also expected to be the same loud, boisterous one typical of the ones over the years in this rivalry.


But that environment, MacDonald warned, can be a detriment to a team trying to establish its own game so early in the winter.

“It’s when you start attaching expectations and forecasting and you start creating a theater in your mind about what it’s going to look like or should look like, things can get off track,” MacDonald said. “We need to be hyper-aware of that, given the magnitude of the game and the crowd. We can’t tolerate any noise that isn’t productive.”

Bowdoin is 1-1-0, having beaten Middlebury last Friday before losing to Williams. The Polar Bears boast a very good netminder in junior Alex Zafonte and a dynamic forward in sophomore Albert Washco, but Colby is 5-0-1 over the last three seasons against Bowdoin. The two teams will meet again at Bowdoin on Feb. 1.

It may not yet be the season finale, but the game does represent an appropriate final chapter in the Alfond’s history.

“It’s an amazing tradition that goes back long before I was even born, so it’s a tremendous honor to be able to close out the Alfond with this last Colby-Bowdoin (home) game,” Murphy said. “That’s definitely on everybody’s minds. We owe it to all those guys that came before us and left this legacy that we play our best and hopefully put together a really good game for everybody.”

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