The Maine high school basketball tournament may be winding down, but the playoffs are ramping up for some of the state’s college teams.

The Colby men’s hockey team will travel to Amherst College in Massachusetts to take on rival Bowdoin in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) semifinals at noon Saturday. The Mules (13-10-2) reached the semis in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Hamilton 3-2 in overtime in the quarterfinal round Feb. 25.

“That was a very challenging game to play on Saturday at Hamilton,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. “They had a great crowd there. It’s a long (road) trip for us, it’s over seven hours. I give the guys a lot of credit. Their mental toughness, resiliency to kind of get up for that game (was big). We had a bit of an awkward first period, but had a great second and third. It was a good testimony to their grit. We’ve played seven out of our last nine (games) on the road, so it’s been a grind. It was good for them.”

Colby had its share of battles during the regular season. After a 6-0 start, the Mules went 4-9-2 from Dec. 10 to Feb. 10. But the Mules have since won three of their last four games. Colby has had well-rounded scoring at the top of the stat sheet, led by senior forward Carter Breitenfeldt (10 goals, 13 assists), junior forward John McElaney (10 goals, 12 assists), junior forward Ryan Doolin (7 goals, 13 assists) and junior defenseman Jack Sullivan (5 goals, 15 assists). The Mules have also received excellent goaltending from junior Andy Beran, who is 12-8-1 with a 1.88 goals against average.

“We’ve had a bit of an up-and-down year, in some ways,” MacDonald said. “We’d play a few games and score some goals. Then we’d play a number of games playing fabulous and (we) don’t score any goals. I think we’ve been able to adjust and adapt to different circumstances pretty well. I think our goaltending has been exceptional all year. And I’d say our special teams — power play and penalty kill — have been very, very good. That’s helped us. Lastly, we’re very good in the face-off dot, so it’s a possession game when you’re winning face-offs.”

The Mules have not struggled with the Polar Bears (13-9-2) of late, going 11-0-1 dating to the 2016-17 season. Like the Mules, the Polar Bears had their own tough stretch of NESCAC play, but have since turned their fortunes around under first-year head coach Ben Guite, including a 2-1 overtime victory over Trinity College on Feb. 25 in the NESCAC quarterfinals.


“We had a hot start, and kind of lost our way in January,” Guite said. “In a way, it really forced us to play our best hockey to get out of it. That was the message a couple of weeks ago. ‘Hey, you’re playing Colby, you’re playing Trinity, you’re playing Wesleyan, you’re playing Amherst.’ You’re figuring out a way to beat Hamilton, you’re figuring out a way to win against these guys that might not work right now in the moment, but you’re developing the habits that will help you win in the playoffs. It doesn’t always happen, but we seem to be straightening out the ship right before the playoffs started, and I’m certainly pleased we went down to Trinity and got a win there.”

Bowdoin College men’s hockey players, including Ean Small (23), celebrate a goal during a game earlier this season in Brunswick. The Mules and Polar Bears will meet in a New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinal game Saturday at noon in Amherst, Mass. Photo by Brian Beard/Bowdoin athletics

Bowdoin is led offensively by senior forward Andy Stoneman (8 goals, 13 assists) and senior forward Albert Washco (7 goals, 12 assists). Junior goalie Alex Kozic is 9-9-2 with a 2.38 goals against average.

“The key to our team has been our work ethic and compete (level),” Guite said. “It’s been there all year. I’ve been really pleased with that all year and it’s great to see them play great hockey with all the gritty stuff they need to win hockey games.”

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The Colby women’s hockey team is also moving along in the NESCAC playoffs. The Mules (17-6-0) have won their last six games, including a 2-1 overtime decision over Trinity College in a NESCAC quarterfinal Feb. 25. Colby will have a challenge on its hands Friday (3:30 p.m.), when it will face Hamilton College (19-4-2) at Amherst College. The Continentals are 2-0-0 against the Mules this season.


“It’s a privilege, every week that we get to continue on,” Colby head coach Holley Tyng said. “Making the playoffs, getting to practice this week, and getting better, that’s what I love about this group. Every week we get on the ice, and every weekend, it’s an opportunity for the girls to showcase their growth and showcase their development. That’s been really fun.”

Veteran leadership has helped Colby. Junior forward Meg Rittenhouse (17 goals, 14 assists) has had a brilliant season. Senior forward Tate Senden has added 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists). But Tyng said that the maturation of the team’s young players has also aided the Mules’ success.

Colby defenseman Bri Michaud-Nolan skates with the puck during a game earlier this season. Photo by Jamie Fiedorek/Colby athletics

“This group is really committed to playing together as a unit, which is really impressive,” Tyng said. “The ability for the young players to settle in and get their feet underneath them (has been big). Our second line is all players that are playing in their first year of college hockey.”

The Mules also have two strong goaltenders in sophomore Mandy Busky (7-3-0, 1.27 GAA) and sophomore Paige Bolyard (9-3-0, 1.68 GAA).


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In women’s basketball, the University of Maine at Augusta (21-6) is rolling into the Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC) playoffs. The Moose have won five straight games and 18 of their last 20 dating to late November. UMA plays Southern Maine Community College (19-7) in the semifinal round Saturday at noon at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. The Moose are looking for another selection into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Division 2 national tournament.

“I told (the team) all the time, we’re good when we play hard,” UMA head coach Heath Cowan said. “When we kind of go through the motions, we’re just not very good. We’ve played hard a lot lately. We’re making shots. Alisyn (Alley) is now 27 games in, from being a high school player to understanding what it takes to be a college point guard. We’re doing some really, really good things.”

Points have been evenly spread around for the Moose this season. Freshman guard Alley (13.5 points per game) leads the team, followed by junior Desirae Dumais (12.7 ppg), senior Mariah Dunbar (11.5 ppg), senior Sydney Farrer (11.3 ppg) and senior Kaeti Butterfield (10.9 ppg).


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In men’s basketball, the season came to an abrupt end for the University of Maine at Farmington. The Beavers fell 83-77 to SUNY-Delhi in the North Atlantic Conference final on Feb. 25. UMF finished 19-8, 13-1 in the NAC. Guard Terion Moss, the NAC Player of the Year, led the Beavers with 20 points, while forward and NAC Defensive Player of the Year Jack Kane finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

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