A veteran Colby College team and a youthful Bowdoin College squad renew acquaintances for the 173rd time Tuesday evening when Bowdoin’s Polar Bears entertain the Mules at Dayton Arena beginning at 7.
Bowdoin holds an 88-78-6 advantage including a 23-16-1 edge at Dayton Arena including a 5-2 triumph last February.
On the season, Colby is 4-1-1 overall, 3-0-1 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Bowdoin is 3-2-1, 2-1-1, respectively.
Despite Colby’s clear advantage in experience, the teams have a lot in common.
Both have had trouble putting the puck in the net. Colby has averaged just three goals per game while the Polar Bears have been a tad better at 3.8 per outing.
“Maybe the Good Lord will shine upon us and we’ll have a 9-8 or 10-9 game. That way we can both feel good about our scoring,” said sixth-year Colby coach Jim Tortorella.
Both teams have also received a lift from a Waterville native.
Junior right wing James LaLiberty is Colby’s leading scorer with two goals and five assists while the Polar Bear defense has been fortified by the play of sophomore defenseman Chad Hart, who has two goals in five games.
“We’ve got seven senior forwards but instead of our maturity at forward being a strength, it’s been a little bit of a weakness [because they haven’t been scoring] so far. But our junior class has been doing a lot of the scoring,” said Tortorella referring to LaLiberty and left wings Bob Nagle (2 & 3) and Mike Higgins (4 & 0).
Meanwhile, Hart practiced with the Polar Bears all last season but never got into a game.
“He knew we had a senior-laden group on defense but he accepted that and worked hard,” said 18th year Polar Bear coach Terry Meagher. “He worked awfully hard in the offseason and it has paid huge dividends. The only thing holding Chad back was half-a-step of speed but he got that through conditioning. He’s a very bright hockey player.”
Both coaches have been happy with their teams’ starts.
“It has gone well for us. For us to be 4-1-1, I’m pleased with how we’ve accomplished that. I’m a real believer that you don’t want to play your best early, you want to play your best in February. And we definitely haven’t played our best yet,” said Tortorella, who returned 11 of his top 13 scorers off last year’s 16-9-1 team.
Meagher, who graduated six of his top 11 scorers off last season’s 17-5-2 team, said, “This may be the youngest team I’ve ever had here and they’ve played pretty well. We just want to look at getting better every period and every game.”
The Mules will be looking to get senior center Fred Perowne untracked. He has 95 points in his career but has just two goals and two assists so far. Sophomore Sean O’Grady (0 & 2) and Yarmouth freshman Nick Meintel (0 & 2) have anchored the defense and Saco sophomore J.D. Hadiaris has a 3-1 record, a 3.19 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in goal.
Sophomore defenseman Ryan Seymour (0 & 10) has paced the Polar Bears along with the line of freshman Chris Pelletier (3 & 4) between sophomore right wing Adam Mantin (5 & 2) and sophomore LW Sean Starke (4 & 2).
Senior Colin Robinson (3-2, 3.19, .897) will get the start in goal.
Ryan [Seymour] and Chad are both talented offensively. They can make things happen,” said Meagher, who knows what his team will have to do to have success Tuesday.
“They will have a huge edge on the special teams. They have a lot of experience on the power play and they’ve faced all kinds of man-down sets and situations. We’ve got to stay out of the box and be able to shut down their power play when we do get penalties,” said Meagher.
He also said they’ve got to play well in the defensive zone; try to get second shots off rebounds and get some production out of his second, third and fourth lines.