Trinity College’s Jericho Petkovich (18) looks to score on Colby College goalie Andy Beran (33) as Colby defenseman Clay Korpi (7) intervenes Jan. 15 at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — There are plenty of similarities between this year’s 14th-ranked Colby College men’s hockey team, the one that won the program’s first New England Small College Athletic Conference regular season title since 2008, and the 2018 Colby squad that won the NESCAC tournament and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four.

There are also a few key differences.

“Winning the NESCACs in 2018, that was a pretty good stretch of three games,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. “But this was a marathon where the challenges were many. It was extremely fulfilling to see guys out on the ice in (a 4-0 win over Connecticut College on Feb. 19) and win it for a regular season championship.

“It showed much more resiliency than a tournament run.”

Top-seeded Colby (16-5-2) hosts No. 5 Hamilton College (11-9-1) at 4:30 p.m. in one of two NESCAC semifinals to be contested at Jack Kelley Rink on Saturday. The other semifinal pits No. 2 Trinity (15-7-1) against No. 3 Williams (10-9-1) in the early game. The winners meet Sunday at 2 p.m.

Colby and Hamilton split a pair of regular season meetings, with each winning at home. The Mules topped the Continentals in overtime, 3-2, in the most recent game on Feb. 5.


Colby hasn’t lost consecutive games all season, primarily due to its play on the back end. Three Mules earned All-NESCAC First Team honors, including sophomore goalie Andy Beran, who leads the conference in three statistical categories — goals against average (1.45), save percentage (.943) and shutouts (5). NESCAC Rookie of the Year Jack Sullivan emerged into a key role on the blue line and is second overall on the team in scoring with 21 points.

“(Beran) takes representing Colby College and being the goaltender for this team very, very seriously,” MacDonald said. “He’s got NESCAC Player of the Year statistics, probably All-American statistics — but those things mean almost nothing to him. He’s all about the team.”

Senior Justin Grillo is the third member of the All-NESCAC First Team from Colby. The winger, whose goal in the final seconds lifted Colby over SUNY-Geneseo in the national quarterfinals in 2018, has posted a career-high nine goals to go with 13 assists.

Colby has generated nearly a point and a half per game from its defensemen, second best in the nation behind No. 2 Utica College. Veteran defensemen like Austin Halpen and Michael Thomas — four-year starters — teaming with players like Sullivan has been pivotal to the Mules allowing the fewest goals against in the league (34).

Perhaps just as significantly, the sturdiness in their own end allowed the Mules to think differently at the other end of the rink, too.

“It gives you a real sense of certainty,” said MacDonald, who was selected as the NESCAC Coach of the Year for the first time in his 10 seasons behind the Colby bench. “For any team, when you can rely on being pretty stout in not giving up a lot of goals or opportunities, it frees you up offensively.


“You can redefine what’s a risk offensively. It’s given us a lot of confidence.”

Confidence is something the 2018 NESCAC tournament champion Colby squad had.

It’s similarly a defining characteristic of the current version of the Mules, too.

“The core of our success has been incredible quality of depth,” MacDonald said. “Every guy in that locker room today has played a great game for us at some point this season and is a major contributor.

“It’s two totally different skill sets between the (2018 and 2022) teams — but the way the guys are, how they get along so well, their habits and behaviors are very similar. This team is the same way that (2018) team was, in that their pretty much unfazed by circumstances. They can move ahead quickly.”



• • •


The Colby men aren’t the only team that will be busy this weekend.

After finishing the regular season in second place in the conference, the Colby women’s hockey team is off to Vermont this weekend for the NESCAC semifinals. The Mules (16-4-1) play No. 3 Amherst College at 4:30 p.m. at Middlebury College. Top-seeded Middlebury plays No. 4 Hamilton in the early game.

Both semifinal matchups are rematches of the 2020 semifinal round, the last time the tournament was contested. Like on the men’s side, the women’s championship game is on Sunday.

All-NESCAC First Team selection, Lexi Cafiero leads Colby in scoring with 11 goals and 16 assists, bolstering a conference-best power play (25.4 percent). Senior goalie Nina Prunster, another All-NESCAC First Teamer, owns a 1.11 GAA and .957 save percentage.

Comments are not available on this story.