Ice Hockey | Hockey looks to build momentum this season
Jumbos will work to overcome loss of Barchard
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 08:11
Last year, the ice hockey team achieved not only its team goals for the season, but also something it had never done before: hosting a NESCAC tournament game.
But the excitement of this major breakthrough was short−lived, as Tufts crashed out of the tournament in the quarterfinals, falling to Williams at the Malden Forum in a thrilling overtime finish and ending the year three wins short of a NESCAC Championship.
This year, however, the Jumbos are not looking to settle for just another home playoff game. That time has come and gone, and the objective for the 2012−13 season is to move beyond that first quarterfinal win onto the NESCAC Championship game.
“Our goal last year was getting a home playoff spot,” senior co−captain defender Nick Metcalfe said. “But we also fell short. We really wanted ... to make it past the quarterfinals for the first time. This year, we have the potential to do that and win a championship. Last year’s loss is a motivation to get us there.”
The Jumbos’ last season was a major step forward, as the team earned nine NESCAC wins in a competitive conference and finished 12−11−2 overall. It was a major turnaround from the 2010−11 season, when the Jumbos managed only five wins in the conference and, at one point, suffered a 12−game losing streak during which they allowed 5.7 goals per game.
This year’s team will look to continue that upward trend.
“I think that our biggest goal is to win the NESCAC championship,” junior forward Kyle Gallegos said. “I think we are going to continue to get better and we need to set our goals higher.”
On the topic of talent, the Jumbos will return this year with significant losses, but also with a few fresh faces.
Most notably, the team lost highly accomplished goaltender Scott Barchard (LA ’12), who graduated last spring. Barchard became Tufts hockey’s first ever All−American his sophomore year before suffering an ankle injury that kept him off the ice for most of his junior year.
But Barchard returned strong last year for the Jumbos in 2011−12, leading the nation with 817 saves and earning All−NESCAC honors and a spot on the 2012 New England Hockey Writers Division II/III All−Star team for the second time in the process. Fittingly, Barchard left Tufts after becoming the school’s all−time saves leader.
The Jumbos also lost key contributors like forward Matt Amico (LA ’12) and defenseman Matt Milley (LA ’12). But the team is looking to make up for the losses with a selection of strong new freshmen, key returners and a tougher mentality.
“Overall, we are a little more of a hardworking team this year,” Gallegos said. “We have guys who will get into corners and battle for the puck. That is one of the biggest differences.”
Gallegos is among the team’s most prominent returners, as the junior scored a team−high 18 goals despite missing six games at the beginning of last season. Gallegos was voted to the All−NESCAC second team, leading the conference with a 0.95 goals per game average.
Along with Gallegos, key players like sophomore forward Tyler Voigt and classmate Blake Edwards will return in an attempt to improve on last season’s overall output.
Of course, a team can only go so far without a strong leader, and defending NESCAC Coach of the Year Brian Murray is exactly that. In his 15th season coaching Tufts, Murphy, along with his experienced, expanding team, is looking to complete the playoff run this year with a home game, two victories and, of course, a conference title.
“We have a very strong freshmen class coming in to add to our team,” Metcalfe said. “We have strong returners, we definitely have great potential this year, and our goal is to bring in the championship.”