27 March 2023 • AlumsAthletics Boston Globe: "It was a character game"

“I thought there was a lot of character out there. The experts will say it was an offensive game, a defensive game, but to me, it was a character game,” Coach Mark Taylor tells Boston Globe in post-game victory article.


By Cam Kerry

BEVERLY –– As Wil Crane was awarded a NCAA Division 3 national championship commemorative trophy, T-shirt, and hat, a voice rang out above the rest of a raucous crowd.

“He’s a hockey player – and he’s a national champion!” said an overjoyed onlooker.

Crane, a New Hampshire Monarchs alum, potted the overtime winner, lifting second-ranked Hobart to a 3-2 victory over No. 3 Adrian in the NCAA Division 3 national championship at Raymond J. Bourque Arena on the campus of Endicott College.

After knocking off No. 4 Endicott, the Statesmen defeated the defending national champions to win the first championship in program history.

The tournament was the first national semifinals and championship hosted at Endicott College.

Charlie Baker, who took over as NCAA president this month, was on hand to witness the festivities.

A shot from the point by senior Brenden Howell redirected off a defender’s shin pad and cascaded to Crane and the junior made no mistake, burying the winner.

“[Brendan Howell] got a shot off in the slot and I was fortunate enough to put home a rebound,” said Crane, adorned with a piece of the net in his championship hat postgame. “I kind of blacked out after that. It was unbelievable, can’t write a better script.”

Freshman goaltender Damon Beaver made a season high 35 saves, besting his previous high of 28 stops by incorporating strong positioning to cut down angles.

“Just like any other day, seeing it,” said Beaver. “Just another game, doesn’t matter if it’s the championship – [I was] seeing the puck.”

Shane Shell, a sophomore, tallied in the first period for the Statesmen (29-2-0). Luke Aquaro, a fellow sophomore, scored later in the period to double the lead as the Statesmen utilized a strong forecheck and quick transitions to kickstart the offense.

“For me, I think it was a great weekend of heart,” said Mark Taylor, at the helm of Hobart for 23 seasons.

“I thought there was a lot of character out there. The experts will say it was an offensive game, a defensive game, but to me, it was a character game.”

For a Statesmen team that had been knocking on the door in prior years en route to their first championship game appearance, winning the title usurped their goals of winning the New England Hockey Conference championship.

“We’re going on eight straight years of going to the NCAA tournament, that’s not just luck, that’s a lot of hard work right there that all the fellas put in every day,” said senior captain Zach Tyson.

“We stayed the course and got that goal done.”

After Ty Ennis scored late in the first period, Matus Spodniak equalized the score with 5:30 to play, making no mistake with a snap shot from the right circle with a seeking snap shot for the Bulldogs (25-5-2).

Despite the late comeback, the agony of coming short of back-to-back titles stung.

“It was one shot,” said Spodniak. “We lost today, and I’m a little bit sad. I’m actually speechless.”

The photo above was taken by HWS Chief Photographer Kevin Colton.