The Tufts men’s hockey team lost a hard-fought battle 3–2 in overtime to the Amherst College Mammoths in the NESCAC quarterfinal match on Saturday evening. Entering the game, Tufts was ranked as the No. 6 seed in the conference, while Amherst was ranked No. 3. The Jumbos’ record stood at 10–13–1 overall and 7–9–1 in conference. The Mammoths had a very strong season, winning a majority of their conference games with a 12–3–2 conference record.
Tufts came into the playoffs riding a four game winning streak against Colby, Bowdoin, Hamilton and Amherst. Tufts beat Amherst 2–0 on Feb. 10 in an upset victory, and the team was hoping for a repeat performance in the NESCAC quarterfinal.
The first period of the game was competitive, as the teams went back and forth trading attempts on goal. In the middle of the period, Amherst was able to hold the puck in the Tufts defensive end for an extended length of time. An attempted cross-ice pass deflected off of a Tufts defender, and the puck wound up in the back of the net to give Amherst a 1–0 lead. The goal proved to be the difference in the period, as the second period began with Tufts still trailing by one goal.
In the second period, Amherst began to dominate play, racking up 15 shots on goal. Junior goalie Peyton Durand continued his incredibly impressive form as of late and kept all 15 shots out of the net to keep the Jumbos in the game. Durand had only let in three goals in the previous four games and came into this game with confidence.
“Our goalie played unbelievable. He carried us through the past month of games and was a huge reason we were in it,” sophomore forward Brennan Horn wrote in a message to the Daily.
An elbowing penalty called against sophomore forward Marek Pechr gave Amherst a power play and allowed them to build on their momentum. First-year forward Cole Dubicki put a halt to the momentum however, as he poked the puck away from an Amherst attacker and followed it down the ice. As he crossed the blue line, he was slashed by Amherst forward Ryan Tucker and earned a penalty shot. He was able to put it away to tie up the game at one goal apiece.
In the third period, the game was still extremely back and forth as both teams vied for the lead. Amherst broke the deadlock with a stroke of brilliant play by forward Zachary Murray, who got around two Tufts defenders and Durand to take the lead 2–1 with eight minutes remaining in the period. A few minutes later, first-year forward John Mulvihill was called for a roughing penalty that gave Amherst a power play. Junior defender Jack Hughes stood strong on the ensuing Amherst attack and stole the puck. He sent it to junior forward Aidan Lovett who passed the puck down the ice to senior forward and captain Mason Kohn. Kohn put it in the back of the net to tie the game on a shorthanded goal for the Jumbos. It was Kohn’s sixth goal of the season and put Tufts back into the game.
As the game reached its dying minutes, a penalty was called against Amherst, giving Tufts a power play right at the end of regulation. The Jumbos couldn’t capitalize, but the power play carried over into the first minute of the overtime period. Once again, they couldn’t find a way to get the puck into the Mammoths’ net. In the later stages of the period, junior defender Sam Miller was called for a tripping penalty and Amherst got a power play. The Mammoths were finally able to deflect a shot into the Tufts goal to win the game 3–2.
Although they suffered a tough end to the season, the 2022–23 season was a drastic improvement for the Jumbos from last year. It was the first time that they won 10 games since the 2016–17 season, and they will look to continue to build going into next year as well.
“The biggest takeaway for our group going forward is knowing the character we have in our Locker room and our willingness to fight for each other,” Mulvihill wrote in a message to the Daily.
The future is bright for this Jumbos team.