In a crucial NESCAC series over the weekend, the Tufts men’s Hockey team won one and lost one in two hard-fought games. Entering the competitions, the Jumbos held an overall record of 5–10–1 and a 2–7–1 conference record. They sat at seventh in the conference standings. The previous weekend, Tufts lost both of its games to NESCAC opponents, making this weekend’s contest more critical to obtain victories.
Friday’s game was against the Williams College Ephs, who held a record of 4–11–1 overall and were tied with the Jumbos in the conference standings. In their last six games, Tufts hadn’t beaten Williams, and lost this season’s previous matchup 4–1.
In the first and second periods, the game was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team being able to penetrate the other’s defense. Both goalies maintained clean sheets through the first 40 minutes. Junior goalkeeper Peyton Durand had made 18 saves going into the third period.
Six minutes into the third chunk of play, Williams was able to get on the board as a shot rebounded off of Durand and fell to the stick of a Williams attacker, who slotted it home for a 1–0 lead. The Jumbos put pressure on the Ephs but weren’t able to break the line of defense. With five minutes left in the period, Williams tacked on another goal with a snapshot that just made it past Durand to double the Ephs’ lead.
Sophomore forward Tyler Sedlak came inches away from bringing Tufts back into the game as he had two shots hit the frame of the goal in the third period.
In order to try and get momentum back, the Jumbos pulled Durand and played the final two minutes with a 6–5 man advantage. The strategy worked, as Sedlak shot from beyond the blue line and the puck deflected out to first year forward Max Resnick, who was positioned right in front of the net to tap it in and make the score 2–1. The goal made the last minute of play intense, but the Ephs were able to run out the clock to win the game 2–1.
“I think when our team does what we know we're capable of doing we have success, but when we stray away from that we don’t,” junior defender Cam Newton said.
Each team had two power plays throughout the game, but neither was able to capitalize on the man advantage.
The following game was against the Middlebury College Panthers. Middlebury had a 4–13–0 overall record and stood at eighth place in the conference. The Jumbos had won their last four games against the Panthers.
“I’d definitely say the second game we came out a little bit harder,” Newton said. “We knew we needed to win if we wanted a chance to make playoffs.”
Once again, the game started out slow for both teams. The game stayed scoreless through the first period. In the second, a holding penalty was called against Middlebury, and Tufts went on the power play. First-year forward Cole Dubicki won a faceoff and passed the puck to sophomore forward Harrison Bazianos. Bazianos shot the puck home to take the lead 1–0. The Jumbos doubled the lead when Bazianos collected a loose puck from a mess of players and passed it to junior forward Joel Brandinger who made his way down the ice and slotted the puck in the back of the net. Middlebury was able to pull one goal back at the end of the period when a two-on-one breakaway resulted in the puck slipping past Durand.
In the third period, the Panthers tied up the game halfway through the period with a wraparound goal. Tufts quickly responded, however, as less than two minutes later good pressure from Bazianos forced a turnover deep in the Middlebury end of the ice. Bazianos passed the puck to sophomore forward Brennan Horn who finished it off to take the lead. Middlebury responded once more with five minutes left in regulation to tie the game at three goals apiece.
At the very end of the third period, double penalties were called on Middlebury, one roughing and one bench minor to give Tufts a two-man advantage for the remaining seconds and into overtime. In the overtime period, a shot rebounded out to Resnick, who passed it to Sedlak, who moved the puck once more to junior defender Sam Miller. Miller shot the puck home to capture the win for the Jumbos.
“We’re definitely hoping to finish as high as we can and hopefully host a home playoff game and if not, hopefully have a good seed going into the playoffs,” Newton said.
Tufts’ record now sits at 6–11–1 overall and 3–8–1 in conference. The Jumbos will wrap up their season with six more conference matchups to determine the seeding of the NESCAC playoff.