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LaBounty Scores 3 in Men...s Hockey Win

By Caitlin Murray

Entering Thursday’s game against Endicott College, the MIT Men’s Hockey team had dropped each of their previous three games against the Gulls. But with their confidence bolstered by an unusually boisterous crowd and a seven game unbeaten streak, the Engineers came out strong and took home a 7–1 win.

In addition to extending their streak, the win takes MIT to the top spot in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association Eastern Conference.

Endicott took possession at the face-off, driving into the zone and taking quick shots at MIT’s goalkeeper Thomas A. Hopkins ’07. But Hopkins set the tone early for what would be one of his best games this season, saving four shots on the goal in the first two minutes of the game.

Just two and a half minutes into the game, on a pass from Ryan W. Ballentine ’09, Nick R. LaBounty ’09 faced off with Gull’s goalkeeper Jeff Pardue and placed the puck neatly in the corner of the net to give the Engineers an early 1–0 lead.

But despite the early goal and Hopkins’s valiant effort in the net, the Engineers took some time getting into a groove. Misplaced passes, players out of position, and off-sides calls gave Endicott opportunities to pull even.

The Gulls’ center, Brad Butcher, charged to MIT’s net on a breakaway, facing Hopkins one-on-one. After missing on the first shot, Butcher grabbed the rebound and shot the puck into the corner to tie the game.

The next eight minutes of the period were scoreless, as MIT and Endicott battled it out on the middle ice, neither making substantial headway. As the frustration level grew, so did the violence level, with the aggression reaching a zenith when Endicott’s Ben Dodge, one of their top scorers, was given a five minute major penalty for hitting another player from behind.

This proved to be a key point in the game, breaking the stalemate and reinvigorating the Engineers, who scored three goals in the remaining seven minutes of the period.

The first was scored just thirty seconds after Dodge left the ice, as Mike C. Kozlowski ’07 made a dramatic play, passing to himself through the legs of one defender, and throwing the second completely off-balance with a crowd-pleasing flourish on his skates. Finally, one-on-one with the Endicott goalie Pardue, he found the back of the net for what was the game winning goal.

LaBounty and Ballentine, freshmen who have led the Engineers in scoring and assists this season with more than 13 goals and 16 assists apiece, have been very important to MIT’s success this season. They gave a vivid demonstration of just why in the final minutes of the first period.

Oddly enough, the Engineers did not score during an extended five-on-three power play the Gulls handed them late in the period, but waited until Endicott had all five players back on the ice. As soon as their opponents were full strength, LaBounty picked up his second goal of the game off a pass from Ballentine. Less than three minutes later, the pair was off again, as LaBounty made it a hat trick on a feed from Ballentine.

During the second period, comfortable with their 4-1 advantage, the Engineers focused on defense, shutting the Gulls down completely, despite a number of Tech penalties. The Gulls’ best chance came during their first five-four power play, but the Engineers, playing in sharp contrast to Endicott’s rather staid power play style, made sure the Gulls were unable to capitalize.

The final period began much as the second had, with MIT on the defensive to maintain its three point lead. Within seconds of taking the ice, an Endicott forward nailed a slapshot at the net that was within an inch of going in, but instead ricocheted harmlessly off the goalpost.

Less than a minute later, Adam Shabshelowitz ’06 laid to rest any thoughts of an Endicott comeback with a slapshot off the goalpost, into the net. Ten minutes later, he snuck another shot past Pardue to give the Engineers a five point lead.

With two minutes remaining in the game, and MIT’s win secure, two players hit the wall with such force that it shattered a pane of the protective plexiglass perimeter. After a twenty minute delay, MIT’s defenseman Jeremy D. Myers ’08 picked his first goal of the season and made the final score 7–1.