Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Tufts men’s ice hockey team was swept in a two-game series against Stevenson University. Entering the weekend, the Jumbos’ record was 0–2–1. Comparatively, the Stevenson Mustangs’ record was 4–1–2. The first game ended with a score of 6–2, and the second 4–0, both in Stevenson’s favor.
Injuries and sickness were a factor for Tufts as it came into the game shorthanded in terms of the players they would have liked to have on the ice. Coming into the games, the Jumbos knew they had a difficult task ahead with the Mustangs having fared very well against nationally ranked opponents earlier in the season.
“It was definitely a good test for the first week of the season,” senior goalie Josh Sarlo said.
Saturday saw a much closer matchup between the Mustangs and the Jumbos than their first game the day before. Both teams were trading shots early on; however, Tufts put itself in a hole when the team received a penalty in the opening minutes that resulted in a Stevenson goal to put the Mustangs up 1–0.
“[Penalties] are definitely something as a team we want to get better at, just taking away dumb penalties that give [our opponents] power plays,” sophomore defender Cam Newton said.
Senior forward Justin Brandt was able to create many positive chances for the Jumbos throughout the first period, but Tufts was unable to convert. The Mustangs’ goalie made crucial saves to keep the game scoreless throughout. Both teams posted 15 shots on goal by the end of the first 20 minutes.
Just 12 seconds into the second period, Tufts received a roughing penalty that gave Stevenson a power play once again. The Mustangs were able to capitalize, doubling their lead. Three Stevenson penalties gave Tufts three power plays throughout the second period, but the Mustangs successfully killed all three, and the Jumbos were unable to score. Stevenson managed to score twice more throughout the period, once on a short handed goal, making the final score 4–0 in favor of the Mustangs.
The third period saw a scoreless result from both sides. Despite giving up another penalty in the early minutes of the third period, Tufts was able to keep Stevenson out of its net. Both teams traded shots throughout the last 20 minutes of play. Toward the end of the period, there were some tussles that resulted in penalties for both sides, and the two teams finished with just four players on the ice each.
Much of the Mustangs’ defensive success was due to an outstanding performance by their goalie, who made 34 saves. Tufts’ Sarlo also played well, racking up 32 saves of his own.
On Friday, the first period was action packed, with a total of five goals between the two sides. Stevenson scored in the opening 12 seconds and quickly followed that goal up with three more throughout the period, two coming on power plays.
“We showed up a little bit flat, and our compete game wasn’t really there,” Brandt said. Tufts was able to pull one back toward the end of the first period, when Brandt scored on a Jumbos power play.
The second period was much more evenly matched, with both teams going scoreless throughout the 20 minutes. Stevenson kept Tufts’ goalie busy however, posting 13 shots over the course of the period. Sophomore goalie Peyton Durand, however, was up to the task in his Tufts debut, saving all 13 shots and keeping the score at 4–1. Conversely, the Jumbos struggled to post shots on goal, totaling only two in the second period.
Tufts picked up momentum in the third period, managing to pressure the Stevenson goalie with 10 shots on goal. Despite the Jumbos’ efforts, the Mustangs scored twice throughout the period and the Jumbos only found the back of the net once. The bright spot of the game for the Jumbos was when Brandt scored a short-handed goal to end the game with a score of 6–2.
Stevenson outshot Tufts 30–17 in the first game, with penalties fairly evenly split — Tufts received five and Stevenson received six. The transition from the first to the second game saw improvement for the Jumbos.
“If you take the improvement from Friday to Saturday, that little win, [you can] hopefully carry that on into next weekend,” Brandt said.
Tufts will look to earn its first win later this week as it plays two conference games against Middlebury and Williams on the road.