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

Men’s hockey splits NESCAC weekend series, beating Wesleyan but falling to Trinity

Despite the mixed results, the Jumbos reflect proudly on their progress so far this season.

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John Mulvihill is pictured in the Nov. 17, 2023 game against Trinity College.

Exactly one year ago, the Jumbos men’s hockey team’s weekend slate consisted of the same two opponents, the Trinity Bantams and the Wesleyan Cardinals, as it did this year. On Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, 2023, the Jumbos fell 6–0 to the Bantams and 5–4 to the Cardinals. But it’s a new year, and the Jumbos, who went into the weekend undefeated since Nov. 26, are a new team. So, expectations and excitement for their road trip to Connecticut were sky-high.

First, the Jumbos ventured to Hartford to take on the NESCAC-leading heavyweight Bantams. The two had previously clashed in the Jumbos’ season opener on Nov. 17, with the Bantams coming out 5–1 as victors. The Bantams came out of the gate flying, registering 11 shots before the Jumbos could put up one. With about 11 minutes remaining in the first period, the Jumbos’ resistance finally snapped. Forward Devan Tongue gathered a loose puck behind the net and centered it in front to set up forward Christian Hayes. Hayes’ shot was deflected wide, but forward Nicholas Siffringer gathered the puck and lashed it past senior goalkeeper Peyton Durand to put the Bantams ahead.

The rest of the first period was more evenly matched, with the Bantams holding a narrow 10–8 lead in the shot column. Six minutes into the second period, though, the Jumbos bounced back. Sophomore forward Cole Dubicki won a face-off and sent the puck to first-year defenseman Sylas Oberting. Oberting took a shot, which was blocked, but he regained the puck and shuffled it back to Dubicki, who moved it to sophomore forward Liam O’Hare. O’Hare found sophomore forward John Mulvihill, who finished the move for his eighth goal of the season. Mulvihill leads the Jumbos in scoring and sits third in the NESCAC scoring charts.

The match remained locked at 1–1 throughout the rest of the second period and through most of the third. With under three minutes remaining, the Bantams broke the deadlock. Defenseman Eamon Doheny took a shot that was halted by a crowd in front of the net. Doheny gathered the clearance and directed the puck off the boards to Tongue. Tongue closed in on the net, before rocketing the puck into the top corner, giving the Bantams a 2–1 advantage.

“We were in a dog fight with them all game and [had] a couple of D-zone breakdowns, and [at] the last second, they scored. [Tongue] had a nice shot, and there was nothing [Durand] could do,” sophomore forward Max Resnick reflected.

With under one minute remaining, the Jumbos pulled Durand to give them a man advantage. As the Jumbos shifted the puck around the Bantam zone in hopes of creating a shot, senior defenseman Sam Miller bobbled the puck at the blue line. It was picked up by Bantams forward Casey Rhodes, who skated into the Jumbos’ defensive zone unopposed and calmly finished the Bantams’ third goal.

Trinity remained undefeated in NESCAC play, although that streak snapped the following day with a 2-1 loss to Connecticut College. The Jumbos’ nine-game undefeated run concluded, but their fight against the NESCAC’s top dog was valiant.

The next day, the Jumbos traveled to Middletown, Conn. to square off with the Wesleyan Cardinals. The Cardinals had narrowly bested the Jumbos in Malden on Nov. 18, in a 5–4 overtime victory.

The Jumbos wasted no time kicking off the scoring. Seven minutes in, Resnick was victorious on a face-off in the Cardinal zone. The puck found junior forward Tyler Sedlak, who whizzed a one-timer past goalkeeper Erik Voloshin to give the Jumbos a 1–0 lead. The period concluded with the same scoreline, though the Cardinals held a 19–15 shots advantage.

In the second, the dynamic Resnick/Sedlak duo was back in action. Sedlak found Miller after missing a shot but retaining the rebound. Miller, too, took a shot that was blocked. Resnick picked up the loose puck and hammered home a wrist shot to put the Jumbos up 2–0. The shot barrage continued from both sides, with the netminders nabbing a total of 25 shots before the horn sounded on the second period.

“Between me, [Sedlak], and [junior forward Harrison Bazianos] — the other guys on the line — we just play hard and do little things for each other,” Resnick said. “So, credit to both those other guys for working hard and doing the right things. I ended up cashing in but it’s a three-way process.”

Immediately following the third period face-off, Cardinals forwards Connor Sutherland and Owen Sweet found themselves in a two-on-one advantage skating into the Jumbos’ defensive zone. Sweet sent the puck to Sutherland, who cut the deficit in half.

However, seven minutes later, Jumbos’ junior forward Clark Bolin pounced on a faulty pass in the Cardinals defensive zone and finished unopposed past Voloshin to restore the two-score advantage.

From there, the Jumbos’ defense held strong. Durand made 12 key saves to ensure the 3–1 victory. After falling to Trinity the previous day, Tufts was back in the win column.

The weekend’s results demonstrate just how far the Jumbos have come in the space of a year. While falling again to Trinity, Tufts managed to rebound against Wesleyan, improving its NESCAC record to 6–3–1. At this time a year ago, Tufts had just two conference victories. Now, it sits third in the NESCAC with 20.5 points, 1 point behind Bowdoin, and with a game in hand, in pole position to make a run at the conference championship.  

“A lot has changed in a year and a lot of growth, but only, I’d say, in a positive direction. Since the puck dropped a year and a half ago at Trinity, I’d say all our team’s done is grow and get better and learn a lot of things,” Resnick said. “We put ourselves in a great spot with the last couple of weeks of the regular season coming up here, and then hopefully gearing up for a long playoff run.”

In a word, it’s progress. Trinity might be a yet unconquered peak, but Tufts is confident it can be a force to be reckoned with in the NESCAC. The Williams Ephs mark the next obstacle on Friday, and the only direction the Jumbos plan on going from here is up.