Men's Ice Hockey | Jumbos lose back-to-back home games
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 08:01
The men’s ice hockey team just can’t seem to catch a break. This past weekend, the Jumbos had two devastating home losses, continuing the season-long trend of last-second heartbreak. The losses, which were both in-conference, dropped the Jumbos to 1-7 in the NESCAC and made the possibility of a playoff berth increasingly unlikely.
The weekend marked the Jumbos’ sixth and seventh one-goal losses and their second overtime loss in the last two weeks. Saturday’s disappointing loss to Amherst capped off the letdown, as the visiting Lord Jeffs rebounded from a 3-0 second-period deficit to top the Jumbos with just five minutes remaining in regulation.
In the first period, things looked promising for the Jumbos, with freshman forward Matt Pugh scoring his second goal of the season early. Receiving the puck from junior defenseman Shawn Power on a power play, he shot past Amherst sophomore goalie Dave Cunningham to give the Jumbos an early lead.
Fewer than 10 minutes later, junior forward George Pantazopoulos doubled Tufts’ advantage, working with linemates freshman Conal Lynch and senior Tim Mitropoulos to find the back of the net at the 15:22 mark.
Going into the first intermission with a solid lead, the Jumbos looked to keep up the offensive pressure in the second stanza. Initially, they were successful, as Pugh once again found the back of the net to tally his third goal of the season, putting his team up 3-0. The scoring effort took the Jumbos just 58 seconds and things looked to be going their way as the second period wore on.
Midway through the period, however, momentum shifted and the Lord Jeffs began to increase the pressure at the Jumbos’ defensive end. Senior defenseman Elliot Bostrom finished his first goal of the season past Jumbos’ rookie goalkeeper Ryan Kellenberger, pulling Amherst within two. For much of the remaining 12 minutes, Tufts’ defense was able to hold the line, and it was not until the final minute of play that the seams started to come apart. At the 19:02 mark, sophomore forward Brendan Burke beat Kellenberger to put the Lord Jeffs in striking distance.
Then, trailing by just one goal with less than a minute in the second period, Amherst struck again. This time junior forward Andrew Fenwick capitalized on a tired Tufts defense, collecting an equalizing goal as time expired.
“We outplayed Amherst for the majority of the second, but they were able to climb back into it with two late second period goals,” senior forward Brendan Fadden said. “The late goals going into the intermission killed the momentum that we had been generating throughout the game. We are a well-conditioned team, so their goals were more a result of our mental mistakes rather than our execution.”
By the time the third period rolled around, it was as if the Jumbos had given into an inevitable defeat. Although the defense played strong and the offense continued to challenge, Tufts was unable to regain the lead it had built up early in the contest.
The Lord Jeffs successfully killed three penalties in the closing minutes, before sophomore forward Topher Flannigan emerged from the penalty box and finished a shot past Kellenberger, dashing the Jumbos’ hopes.
“We came out very strong against a pretty tough Amherst team,” senior forward Kyle Gallegos said. “They were able to capitalize on a couple opportunities late in the second period, though. That really slowed our momentum and finally put us away after the lucky bounce [for them] in the third.”
The previous evening provided no happier ending for the hosts, who fell 3-2 in overtime to visiting Hamilton after seizing another early lead. Kellenberger’s 34-save performance was not enough to keep the Jumbos out of trouble after advancing to extra time against the Continentals.
Late in the first period, Tufts jumped to a lead when Fadden notched an even strength goal with help from linemate Keith Campbell, a sophomore forward, in the final minute of play.
“Campbell won a battle in the corner for the puck and made a really heads-up play and passed it to me in the high slot. I was able to beat the goalie with a shot low blocker-side,” Fadden said.
Looking to stop the bleeding, the Continentals jumped out of the gates quickly in the second period and it took just 13 seconds for Hamilton sophomore forward Kenny Matheson to beat Kellenberger for the equalizer.
With the game tied at one goal apiece, Hamilton continued to pressure and capitalized when Tufts sophomore James Randaccio was whistled for hooking. On the ensuing power play, junior forward Pat Curtis found the back of the net to put his Continentals on top midway through the second period.