Ice Hockey | Jumbos eliminated from NESCAC playoff contention
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02
After notching its second season NESCAC victory against Hamilton last weekend, the men’s hockey team dropped another pair of conference matchups to close out all hope of making the NESCAC playoffs. Losses against Bowdoin and Colby on Friday and Saturday, respectively, brought about the end to a frustrating season.
The 0-for-2 road trip to Maine was not what the Jumbos had hoped for. But as their 13th and 14th conference matches were both painful losses, the outcome could have been anticipated.
“It was a pretty brutal feeling closing out the season the way we did,” sophomore forward George Pantazopoulos said. “One of our goals this season was to make playoffs — it’s too bad our two seniors had to go out the way they did,” he added. “I’m sure they are very disappointed with the way the season turned out.”
On Saturday, the Jumbos’ season concluded with a 6-2 loss at the hands of the Colby Mules. The Jumbos missed another chance to repeat as hosts in the NESCAC tournament by a mile, instead retiring their skates for the winter with a dismal 2-14-2 conference record.
The game started out physically, as if the frustrations of an entire season were building up for the Jumbos. Sophomore forward Andrew White was whistled for elbowing just 6.5 minutes into the game. And in the 16th minute, senior co-captain defenseman Nick Metcalfe was ejected from the game for fighting, and saw an early exit to a disappointing senior campaign.
“It’s hard not to have built up frustrations with the way our season went,” Edwards said. “Sometimes, emotions get the better of someone and that may have happened to [Metcalfe].”
Senior co-captain Cory McGrath put the Mules up first, gathering a shot that ricocheted off the post and burying it past freshman keeper Derek Metcalfe for the 1-0 advantage.
But about a minute later, the Jumbos knotted things up with a power-play strike from junior forward Kyle Gallegos, who took a feed from first-year Brian Oullette and slipped it past goalkeeper Sam Parker to equalize. But almost immediately, the Mules took the lead again and carried a 2-1 advantage into the second.
Early in the second period, Tufts sophomore defenseman Blake Edwards found space and collected a rebound shot, putting the puck behind Parker to tie things back up. Edwards’ strike would be the last of the Jumbos’ season, however, as Colby rebounded to pile on three unanswered goals in seven minutes, despite Tufts’ subbing junior keeper Brian Phillips in for Metcalfe.
“Colby just outplayed us in the second half of the game,” Pantazopoulos said. “Penalties got the best of us and it allowed them to capitalize on the fact that we were down a man for the majority of the third period.”
Tufts traveled to Brunswick earlier in the weekend and dropped a 6-1 decision to the Bowdoin Polar Bears, ranked No. 4 in the USCHO.com rankings and first in the NESCAC. The loss to Bowdoin officially eliminated the Jumbos from the postseason, removing all possibility of Tufts’ sneaking into one of the top eight conference positions.
In the first period, Bowdoin junior Ollie Koo and senior forward Robert Toczylowski each beat Phillips to give the Polar Bears a 2-0 advantage. Koo delivered his strike when a shot rebounded off of Phillips’ pads and the junior was able to direct the ricochet into the left post. Bowdoin then forced a turnover in the middle of the ice, and Toczylowski received the feed, flicking it past Phillips to double the lead.
The Polar Bears then notched a third goal just 18 seconds into the second period, as senior forward Daniel Weinenger craftily drew Phillips to the right and dished the puck into the empty left side of the net. And with fewer than two minutes left in the period, sophomore forward Tim Coffey added to the onslaught, closing in on Phillips to deliver a close tap-in that slipped by into the left post.
Freshman forward Dom Granato eventually found the back of the net on a rebound of Edwards’ shot, but the single goal was little consolation to the Jumbos, who skated off knowing that they would miss out on this year’s NESCAC tournament.
“Its an awful feeling,” Pantazopoulos said.” We worked way too hard to have our season end the way it did.”