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

Hockey secures strong postseason seeding with last games of regular season

Men’s hockey beats Bowdoin, ties with Colby.

MaxResnik_04.jpg

Max Resnick is pictured on Feb. 10.

Last weekend, Tufts men's hockey finished the regular season with a win against the Bowdoin Polar Bears and a tie against the Colby Mules, keeping them at No. 3 in the NESCAC with a 9–7–2 NESCAC record. Tufts started their weekend on the road with a strong 3–1 victory over Bowdoin. It was an important weekend for the Jumbos, who needed to maintain a seed of fourth or better in the NESCAC to host a playoff game this weekend.

The Jumbos had an impressive start against Bowdoin, with sophomore forward John Mulvihill scoring the first goal of the night during the first period.  

We came in with a fresh mind, and we scored pretty early in the first period,” sophomore defenseman Philippe Lamarre said. “We played with intensity, and we were great in the D-zone.”

Bowdoin scored early in the second period to tie the game, but with 17 seconds left in the period, sophomore forward Liam O’Hare scored, pushing the score to 2–1. This set up Tufts for a dominant third period, where sophomore forward Max Resnick scored to bring the Jumbos to a two-goal lead over the Polar Bears.

This is the second time this season that the Jumbos have beaten the Polar Bears by multiple goals. Bowdoin is ranked second in the NESCAC, proving that Tufts is a force to be reckoned with, even among higher-seeded opponents.

Friday night against Bowdoin … [we] fought off a tough second-period stretch, and in the third period, responded really well,” Resnick said. “[We] probably played one of our best periods in a while to cement a really good win for us and a lot of momentum going forward in the playoffs this weekend.”

However, the Jumbos weren’t able to pull through with another resounding victory on Feb. 17, as they tied Colby 4–4. With the tie, Colby barely scraped their way into eighth place in the NESCAC to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Colby played a tough game,” junior forward Tyler Sedlak said. “They were fighting for their lives. They needed to tie or win to make the playoffs, so they played well.”

The game looked like it would be another victory for the Jumbos at first. After a scoreless first 19 minutes, Resnick and Sedlak scored back-to-back goals in the last minute of the first period. But the Jumbos let up three goals in the second period, and despite a goal by sophomore forward Cole Dubicki, the score was tied going into the third period. The Mules scored an early third-period goal to bring the score to 4–3, but junior Harrison Bazianos was able to tie the game with 95 seconds left. The score stayed tied 4–4 even after overtime.

Against Colby, we got out to a pretty good lead in the first period,” Lamarre said. “And then in the second period, we found some trouble in the D-zone with covering guys and miscommunications, but in the third period, we battled back, kept fighting.”

Looking forward to playoffs next weekend, the Jumbos are hoping to keep improving, especially in their second-period play. Though Tufts had an overall strong showing, they slowed down in the second period of both games.

We played pretty well overall,” Sedlak said. “We just have to find a way on Saturday to try to hold onto these leads and not let up some of these late goals.”

Though the Jumbos are a strong team, the single-elimination style of the playoffs makes upsets entirely possible. Next weekend, they’ll play Connecticut College, to whom they have lost to in overtime and beaten 4–0 this season.  

“[Conn. College is] definitely going to want revenge on us.” Lamarre said. “It’ll be a really good test, but we’re up for the challenge, and we love a good dogfight.”

Senior goalie Peyton Durand explained that though he felt good about the team’s chances, they would need to focus on the skills they’d been working on all season.

“I think if we just stay simple, stay true to our identity, we should be able to take care of business and get to the semifinal the following week,” Durand said.

The 2023–24 season has been a monumental season for the Jumbos, with their best winning percentage since 2012. This will also be the first time since 2012 that the Jumbos have hosted a playoff game. 

“It’s big for our program,” Sedlak said. “This is the highest seed that Tufts has ever had. Being able to play at home, in front of our own school, is something that we enjoy and take it as an advantage.”

Tufts hockey will be graduating 10 seniors after this season, including many defenders and Durand, who had 30 saves against Bowdoin and 35 against Colby this weekend. The offense, though, will stay similar next year, which will greatly benefit the team: all the goals this weekend were scored by sophomores and juniors.

This is the best Tufts team I’ve ever played for,” Durand said. “With the talent up front, the scoring from our first line has been really supportive this year, for goal support, keeping us in games or giving us leads in key moments. Our D-core is senior heavy … having those veterans on the blue line is helpful.”

Resnick explained that he was excited about the team’s landmark season, and he believes this marks a turning point for the program as a whole.

It's pretty special that we had such a good year, knowing the history of our program,” Resnick said. “It's time that the page has turned for our program, so it's good to know that we’re finally doing the right things and going in the right direction. But I don't want anyone to think this is a fluke year. This is the consistency and the tradition we’re looking to build going forward.”