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Hockey | Two losses to NESCAC rivals highlight tough weekend for Jumbos

Belisle scores four goals in 9−2 win for Middlebury

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 08:12


Alex Dennett / Tufts Daily Archives

Junior forward Kyle Gallegos scored his sixth goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Middlebury Panthers, who beat the Jumbos 9-2.

On Saturday, the hockey team dropped its second straight conference game, falling 9−2 to Middlebury in a game where the Jumbos were forced to substitute three different keepers between the pipes. Panthers junior forward Louis Belisle tallied four goals and six points in the winning effort, tying his school’s modern−day record for goals and points in a game.

The day before their loss to the Panthers, the Jumbos also suffered at the hands of a NESCAC rival, although Saturday’s game was much closer as Tufts fell 5−3 to the Williams Ephs. Tufts now stands at 3−3−1 and is 1−2−1 in the conference.

On Saturday, the Panthers were the first to strike and they never looked back. In the 10th minute, they capitalized on a power play as Belisle took the puck from freshman defenseman Connor Frick on the left wing and wristed it past Jumbos freshman keeper Derek Metcalfe, who got his first start in the contest.

Four minutes later, the Panthers used heads−up play to their advantage again, when freshman forward Brendan McGovern controlled a Tufts turnover and pushed it ahead to Belisle, who sent a backhanded shot past Metcalfe to double the Middlebury advantage.

Then, with just over a minute remaining in the first period, junior forward Mike Longo polished off a feed in front of the crease to extend the lead to 3−0. At the first intermission, the Panthers had outshot the Jumbos 14−3.

“Middlebury plays a style different than the other teams we’ve played at this point in the season, and I think that we were a little slow in making the adjustments,” junior goalie Brian Phillips said. “They capitalized early on a couple mistakes. Offensively, they moved the puck really well and were able to find the open man.”

With the game seemingly already out of reach late in the second period, the puck finally bounced the Jumbos’ way. Senior co−captain forward Dylan Plimmer jumped on the face−off, sending the puck ahead to junior forward Kyle Gallegos, who notched his sixth goal of the season to get the Jumbos on the board.

Five minutes into the third period, Tufts pulled one closer when senior defenseman Jared Barker knocked home a power play goal from the right point. However, the Jumbos still trailed 7−2, and as junior goalie Greg Jenkins closed out the game, the deficit grew to 9−2 with two Middlebury goals in the 15th and 20th minutes of the period.

“Middlebury knows how to use their skating abilities and speed on their bigger ice surface,” sophomore defenseman Blake Edwards said. “We had a tough time adjusting to that defensively, and because of that we weren’t able to create much offense either.”

Junior keeper Nick BonDurant and sophomore keeper Mike Peters combined for 18 saves in the Panthers’ winning effort. On the other end, the Jumbos seemed unable to find a solution with any of their three goalkeepers.

Earlier, on Friday evening, the Jumbos played Williams in the two teams’ first contest since the Ephs ousted Tufts in the first round of last year’s NESCAC tournament.

Despite jumping out for an early lead, the Jumbos were unable to hold onto the game and surrendered four unanswered goals in the second and third periods, ultimately falling 5−3 to their conference foes.

“It was a game that would’ve been nice to win, given the fact that they knocked us out of the playoffs last season, but we will have another chance for redemption when we play them at home after the break,” Phillips said.

Just over three minutes into Friday’s game, Gallegos sent a feed ahead to sophomore defenseman Blake Edwards, who knocked one home to put the Jumbos up 1−0. Tufts held the advantage for most of the first period, but with under three minutes remaining, freshman defenseman Zander Masucci polished off his first collegiate goal, putting it past Phillips as Williams equalized.

Three minutes into the second period, Tufts regained the lead when Barker sent home the go−ahead goal, but it took the Ephs less than three minutes to tie things up once more. From there, Williams notched three more goals to lead the Jumbos 5−2 early in the third period.

“I think when we took an early lead we may have gotten a little too comfortable,” Edwards said. “We got lackadaisical in our own defensive zone at times, and they capitalized. We believed we had a chance to win up until the end, but we just couldn’t make it happen.”

Tufts responded with a quick goal from forward Luke Griffin, as the freshman also finished his first−ever collegiate goal, but the Jumbos were unable to pull any closer in regulation.

“I don’t know that we really lost momentum, because we were spending a lot of time in their zone throughout the game and that didn’t really change at any point,” Phillips said. “They had some bounces go their way early in the third period to go up and we just weren’t able to rebound from that.

The losses also belied the fact that for the past few weeks, the team has been plagued by injuries, including several concussions, a broken hand and a torn MCL. The spell of bad luck has sidelined, among others, sophomore forwards Tyler Voigt, Derrek Schartz and Andrew White.

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