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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Tufts loses both games at home

Tufts senior defender, Brian Oullette clears the puck during the hockey team's 7-2 defeat against Trinity at the Malden Forum ice rink on Nov. 16, 2014.

Tufts was unable to come away with wins in either leg of the team's two-game homestand this weekend, losing 3-2 to Middlebury on Saturday, Dec. 5 after falling 2-0 to Williams on Friday, Dec. 4. With the results from the weekend, the Jumbos are now 1-4-2 for the season and 0-3-1 in conference play.

“Obviously [because this was] the home opening weekend, we are disappointed in the losses,” student assistant coach Aidan Hartigan, a senior, said. “The guys battled hard though, and we have some positives and negatives to take away from the weekend and [that will] help us moving forward.”

The Jumbos were not able to hold on to their two-goal lead on Saturday, allowing the Panthers to score three times in the final period.

The first period, however, was less eventful, ending without any goals or penalties. Middlebury outshot Tufts 14-9 in the first period and tried to take control of the game early on. Sophomore forward Travis Stephens and senior forward Brendan McGovern both took shots on the Tufts’ goal within the first three minutes, but they were to be denied by sophomore goalkeeper Nik Nugnes.

The Jumbos did improve in the second period, taking 16 shots on goal compared to the Panthers' 18. They were rewarded for their improved shot frequency, snatching the lead against the run of play. Tufts took the lead after a penalty was given on Middlebury’s sophomore forward Vincent Gisonti. On the power-play, first-year forward Nick Balboa recorded his first goal of the season 11 minutes into the second period. Less than two minutes later, the Jumbos doubled their lead, as senior co-captain forward Steward Bell scored his own rebound.

Middlebury tried to up the pressure to find a way back in, but it was denied expertly by Nugnes, who made an impressive 49 saves in the game. However, Nugnes could not stop senior assistant co-captain forward/defenseman Max Greenwald from converting one of Middlebury’s 20 shots in the third period. Greenwald picked up the loose puck before driving forward to score two minutes into the final period.

With 6:44 gone in the third, Middlebury drew level on senior forward Paul Falvey's goal. Junior defenseman Cameron Romoff then turned the game on its head with a little over a minute left, scoring the last goal of the game and allowing Middlebury to take a 3-2 lead. The Jumbos tried to score throughout the third period, but they were unable to convert any of their 10 shots, as they were denied by sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Klein on each occasion.

“Giving away a 2-0 lead in the third period is disappointing and frustrating, but it's something to use as motivation moving forward,” junior forward Patrick Lackey said. “We should have won that game, but it's over, and now we have two opportunities to earn some league points this upcoming weekend.”

On Friday, Tufts was unable to build on its Nov. 28 4-3 win against Brockport.Williams' defense had been watertight in the previous games, conceding just five goals in five games. While the Jumbos out-shot the Ephs 36-33, they could not find a way past senior goalkeeper Noah Klag. Tufts junior defenseman Sean Kavanagh was sent to the box for slashing in the 15th minute. Williams capitalized on the man-advantage with 3:06 left in the first period as junior defenseman James McNamara assisted junior forward George Hunkele to give their team a 1-0 lead.

The Jumbos matched the Ephs in the second period, as both teams put 13 shots on net. However, Williams took the most decisive shot in the period, doubling its lead eight minutes in. This was its first short-handed goal of the season, as first-year forward Robert Cellini had been penalized for tripping. Despite this, Hunkele turned provider for junior forward Tyler Young to hand Williams a 2-0 advantage.

The third period saw Klag pull off another 11 saves, denying shots from Kavanagh, first-year forward David Lackner and senior forward Luke Griffin, and Tufts could not find a way back into the game. Junior forward Conal Lynch led Tufts’ offensive attempts with five shots on goal, but Williams completed its second shutout of the season in NESCAC action to record its third win in conference play.

The Jumbos were unable to pick up any league points from the weekend, but remain optimistic.

“If we can commit to our systems and play a full 60 minutes of hockey, there isn't a team in this league that we can't compete against,” junior forward Michael Leary said. “There are going to be a lot of one-goal games this year. We just need to make sure we're on the right side of the scoreboard moving forward.”

Tufts next plays at Bowdoin on Friday, Dec. 11, before going to Colby on Saturday, Dec. 12.