Men's Hockey | Jumbos playoff chances suffer massive hit with two losses to Conn. College
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 02:02
It’s been the same story all season long.The hockey team enters the third period with a win easily within its reach, and then it all crumbles. In four of Tufts’ last seven conference games, the Jumbos have either been winning or tied at the end of the second intermission. They have lost all seven.
The Jumbos, who have not earned a NESCAC victory since Nov. 17, have begun a horizontal slide across the bottom of the conference standings, and, following a two−loss weekend, they hang their helmets on a disappointing 1−11−2 conference record.
Tufts’ highly talented squad has consistently underperformed when it matters the most, and the Jumbos themselves often seem to lack the belief that they can win when the third period rolls around, and the same issues reappeared this weekend in their two losses to Conn. College.
Saturday’s contest against Conn. College unraveled in a predictable manner. The Camels and Jumbos entered the final stanza in a deadlock, and Tufts stood its ground for much of the final period.
With just four minutes remaining, however, Conn. College took advantage of a fast break and a Tufts defensive lapse to put the puck past Jumbos’ junior keeper Brian Phillips for the winning score.
“It’s something that has plagued us all year,” sophomore defenseman Blake Edwards said. “We need to find a way to up our intensity in the third, because we know the other team will do the same. Unfortunately, there are lapses of intensity, and Conn. was able to take advantage of that on Saturday.”
Things opened in a promising fashion, though. Tufts notched the first goal of the game less than three minutes in, when sophomore forward George Pantazopoulos flicked a pass up to first year forward Keith Campbell. Campbell controlled the feed and dished a hard shot past Conn. College’s Tom Conlin for a quick score.
“My line mates Keith [Campbell] and [senior] Nick [Metcalfe] did most of the work on the first goal,” Pantazopoulos said. “Nick made a great play to get the puck to Keith by passing it to him off the boards, springing him into their zone. Keith made a move on their defensemen and beat Conn.’s goalie with a quick shot glove side high.”
But the Tufts lead was short−lived, as Conn. College sophomore Mike Martinez collected the puck amidst a scramble in front of the Tufts cage and nudged it past Phillips to equalize at the 6:02 mark.
The tie held through the end of the first period, but Tufts went up again early in the second stanza when freshman defenseman Aidan Hartigan received the puck from sophomore defenseman Shawn Power and sent a slap−shot rocketing past Conlin for a 2−1 advantage.
“Shawn gave me a good pass at the point, and there was a lot of good traffic in front” Hartigan said. “My teammates were in front of the net and I just found the seam.”
A minute later, Conn. College answered with a rebound strike from first−year Stephen Brennan. The Camels saw several opportunities to take the lead early in the final period, and nearly capitalized on back−to−back Jumbos’ penalties in the opening minutes.
Tufts’ defense held until the 16−minute mark, when Conn. College quickly forced a Jumbos turnover and hurried the puck across the rink. J.C. Cangelosi was in the right place at the right time, and, finding a hole in Tufts’ hurried defensive formation, the sophomore knocked in his fifth goal on the season to put the Camels up 3−2.
Tensions mounted in the rink, and several players from both sides, including Power, spent the final minutes in the box. Despite picking up the physicality, the Jumbos found themselves in a hole far too deep to crawl out of, and, after pulling Phillips from the net, the Camels skated off with yet another late, come−from−behind win over head coach Brian Murphy’s squad.
“The goal that they scored at the end of the third period was due to the fact that all of our forwards got caught in their zone,” Pantazopoulos said. “Brian [Phillips] did everything he could to keep the puck out of our net. Pretty sure he made two or three saves on his back before they finally put it in. [Phillips] has had a really great year for us. He played very well this weekend, and it’s too bad that we couldn’t get a win for him.”
The previous evening, the Jumbos dropped a 5−2 decision to the same Conn. College team in the away portion of the teams’ weekend doubleheader. Although Tufts entered the final stanza trailing by just a single goal, the host Camels used two third−quarter goals to put the game out of reach.
First year forward Tim DiPretoro broke the game open with two goals less than three minutes apart in the second stanza. DiPretoro notched his second goal on a crafty feed from junior co−captain forward Keith Veronesi that hit him just in front of the right post. Minutes later, the Camels extended their lead to three, when senior defenseman Dawson Luke threaded a shot from the point past several Tufts defenders and into the back of the net.
Tufts responded with the next two scores, as junior forward Kyle Gallegos and freshman Luke Griffin notched goals to bring the Jumbos within one at the end of the second period.