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Ice Hockey | Jumbos pick up tie, win, score eight goals in opening weekend

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 08:11

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Oliver Porter / The Tufts Daily

Junior forward Kyle Gallegos scored a hat trick against Wesleyan as Tufts came away from opening weekend with a 1-1 record.

If the ice hockey team performs in all of its games like it did in its first two, it will not be surprising to see the team back in the playoffs come February. And while the Jumbos were not perfect in their opening weekend — settling for a tie against Trinity before capturing a major conference win against Wesleyan — their offensive power and commanding play are promising signs for the future.

The first of Tufts’ three weekend points came in a Friday night game against Trinity. The Jumbos came out with energy in their first game of the season at the Valley Forum II, and scored an early short−handed goal only 2:27 into the game from freshman forward Conor Helfrich.

The Bantams, however, would answer in the first period and then score two more goals after the first intermission. Down 3−1 early in the second period, Tufts was able to regroup after a timeout and show how the team is capable of maintaining composure, despite its young roster.

“I thought that it was impressive we were able to bounce back against Trinity, being down two goals in our first game of the season,” sophomore forward Tyler Voigt said. “We had the mental toughness to stay with it and bounce back.”

“Bouncing back” is an understatement, as Tufts scored three goals later in the second period to regain the lead in dominating fashion. Voigt and freshman forward Stewart Bell each scored on power plays, while senior defenseman Jared Baker scored an unassisted goal. All three goals came within a 2:34 time period.

“We battled through adversity,” junior goaltender Brian Phillips said. “The first game [against Trinity], we were down 3−1 in second period, but we were able to make it 4−3 Tufts going into the third. It was very impressive.”

Though Tufts held Trinity back for most of the third period, a defensive lapse eventually led to a wide−open Trinity goal in front of the net that knotted the game up at 4−4. Despite five shots on goal for the Jumbos in the ensuing overtime period, their first game of the season ended in a draw.

But the minor setback did not set the tone for the rest of the opening weekend play. Back at Valley Forum II on Saturday, Tufts faced another in−conference matchup against Wesleyan. The Jumbos returned with the same explosive offensive prowess and secured their first victory of the season, 4−2.

“I was really impressed with our physicality in both games,” Phillips said. “With opening weekend, there are a lot of emotions, and it’s going to be physical. We played at that level.”

The most impressive work of the weekend came from junior forward Kyle Gallegos, who scored a hat−trick against the Cardinals. His short−handed, power−play and empty−net goals — along with an early breakaway goal by sophomore forward Andrew White that gave Tufts an early lead for the second game in a row — proved enough to give Tufts its first win.

Another standout of the weekend was Phillips, who has a difficult task trying to fill the spot of Tufts’ all−time save leader Scott Barchard (LA ’12). Phillips made 34 saves in his first career start against Trinity and then 23 in his second career win against Wesleyan. The Cardinals were also unable to score on separate power−play chances in the first period, largely due to Phillips’ strong goaltending.

Tufts’ offensive firepower and strong goaltending have characterized its first weekend of games. Meanwhile, though, the team is looking to be sharper in the defensive end of the ice.

“I think we can improve on the [defensive] back track,” Voigt said. “Guys picking up opponents and being aware of who’s around them on defense.”

While the Jumbos have started the season in strong fashion, they recognize there is much left to learn.

“We need to tighten up certain things,” Phillips said. “We have a young team — really talented, but it will take time to really bring everything together.”

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