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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Men’s hockey sweeps the weekend slate for its first two wins of the season

Tufts picked up a convincing 7–4 win over Williams and a strong 4–1 victory over Middlebury to earn six valuable NESCAC points.

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Tufts men’s hockey is pictured playing against Trinity College on Nov. 17.

In college sports, a team’s conference schedule is the most important, and usually the most difficult, part of its season. The Tufts men’s hockey team, though, has found its groove during the first few NESCAC matchups of the young season. The Jumbos defeated the Williams Ephs 7–4 on Friday and the Middlebury Panthers 4–1 on Saturday to claim their first two victories of the year.

“It’s always nice to get the six points on the weekend, but also for our team morale and everything. It’s what we needed,” sophomore forward Max Resnick remarked.

Tufts entered the weekend at 0–4–1, most recently falling 3–2 to Salve Regina University during the Skidmore Thanksgiving Tournament and in dire need of positive results. Williams, similarly, had suffered a rough start to their campaign, sitting at 1–3. Thus, at puck drop in the Lansing Chapman Rink, both sides were eager to overturn their fortunes.

Just over two minutes into the first period, Ephs senior defenseman Faisal Al-Saif slotted home his first goal of the season on the power play after Resnick was given two minutes in the box for boarding. 

Tufts soon came roaring back as senior defenseman Sam Miller scored his first goal of the season, assisted by first-year forward Trace Norwell.

With about six minutes remaining in the period, it was the Jumbos who went on the power play, as senior forward Henry Muller was given a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Jumbos capitalized on the opportunity, as sophomore defenseman Chris Throndson scored his first goal of the season off a deflection from an Ephs defender after winding through the Ephs zone. At the closing of the first period, the Jumbos maintained a strong 2–1 advantage.

Just over seven minutes into the second third, the Jumbos were again on the scoresheet. Senior defenseman Jacob Iida received the puck from junior forward Harrison Bazianos, who had corralled it behind the Ephs’ net after Resnick won it back, and slid it into the back of the net, extending the lead to 3–1. The Ephs would find a way back into the contest just under 10 minutes later when senior defenseman Ben Lawrick hammered home from the faceoff circle. The affair remained tense at 3–2 all the way through the second period conclusion, with both teams eager for more.

In the third period, to put things mildly, all hell broke loose. The sides combined for a massive six goals, four from the Jumbos and two from the Ephs. For Tufts, first-year Marcus Sang netted his first collegiate goal, followed by Bazianos, sophomore Liam O’Hare and senior Aidan Lovett, who scored on an empty net. The Ephs never wavered in their fight, though, with Muller and senior forward Jonah Gold — shorthandedly — both netting to take the final score to 7–4.

At the time, the Jumbos ranked second in the NESCAC in both goals for and goals against, and Resnick discussed the need to find a balance between scoring and conceding. 

“I think it’s early. … Defensively, it’s a process [and] you [have] to figure out your systems and your [defensive] zone,” Resnick said. “We need to just control the puck more and … have the puck on our sticks and keep it away from them so we can score more goals than they can.”

Williams finished with 37 shots compared to 31 by Tufts, and Durand managed 33 saves, with junior goalkeeper Cal Sandquist making 24. Despite the chaos, the Jumbos emerged from Williamstown with a first, valuable first win. Their seven goals were the most they scored in a game since an 8–5 victory over Amherst in 2022.

While the win was certainly important, the Jumbos had minimal time to enjoy it, as they traveled to Chip Kenyon85 Arena the next day to take on the Middlebury Panthers. Middlebury, like Tufts, entered the matchup having just picked up their first win, 3–2 over Connecticut College the previous night.

Just over three minutes in, the Jumbos jumped out to a 1–0 advantage. On a power play, Bazianos knocked home his third goal of the season, following some nifty interplay between sophomore forward Cole Dubicki and junior forward Tyler Sedlak. About five minutes later, the Panthers equalized after first-year forward Dante Palombo drove at the Jumbo defense and hammered it home.

The second period was less eventful, with Jumbo sophomore forward John Mulvihill scoring its only goal. Dubicki won a faceoff in the Panther zone and shuffled the puck to O’Hare, who then moved it to sophomore defenseman Philippe Lamarre. Lamarre took a shot, which Mulvihill redirected past senior goalkeeper Jake Horoho, giving the Jumbos a 2–1 lead at the outset of the third period.

With just over five minutes remaining in the third, Resnick sent the puck to Sedlak along the boards. Sedlak took a shot, which was saved, but Resnick swooped in and scored the rebound with a back-handed effort for his fourth goal and sixth point of the season.

Dubicki sealed the deal with one minute remaining on an empty net, as the Jumbos took a 4–1 lead and finished off their second consecutive victory.

The Jumbos took 33 shots compared to 24 by the Panthers, with Durand saving 23 and Horoho corralling 29. Bazianos, who put up two goals and an assist on the weekend, was named NESCAC Player of the Week. He is the first Jumbo to take home the award since Durand in February of last season.  

The Jumbos return home to the Malden Valley Forum to take on Bowdoin on Friday. The Jumbos and Polar Bears finished level on points in the NESCAC standings last season. However, Bowdoin went on an incredible run to win the NESCAC championship, despite entering the championship tournament as the seventh seed. Thus, although the weekend’s results represent a step in the right direction for Jumbos, they know they still have more to prove.  

“I know [Bowdoin’s] going to be coming at us hard because we swept them last year and there’s a bunch of points on the line again before a long Christmas break, which everyone is excited about. But, I think we know what we're capable of. So, we’re gonna come at them hard with everything we have and just try to play the right way and hopefully, it ends up working in our favor,” Resnick said.