Hockey splits NESCAC doubleheader, earns first win of season

The Tufts hockey team was defeated by Williams College 4-5 on Saturday, Dec. 4. Courtesy Kris Dufour

The Tufts hockey team split a NESCAC doubleheader on the road this weekend, winning its first game of the season 3–2 against Middlebury on Friday and falling to Williams 5–4 on Saturday. The team now sits at 1–5–1 overall, with a 1–2–1 NESCAC record that puts them ranked in the middle of conference play.

On Saturday, the Jumbos traveled to face the Williams Ephs, where they lost 5–4 despite coming back from a 3–0 deficit. The Jumbos were down three goals in the second period, but goals by sophomore defenseman Sam Miller, sophomore defenseman Cam Newton and senior forward Angus Scott tied the game at 3–3 about five minutes into the third period. First-year forward Tyler Sedlak scored to give Tufts a 4–3 lead with seven minutes to play, but Williams tallied back-to-back goals within three minutes to give the Ephs the 5–4 advantage. 

“Going down 3–0 against a strong opponent is never ideal, but it says a lot about the fight and determination of this team to come back and take a 4–3 lead,” Scott said. “Every player in the lineup played a role in shifting the momentum and our special teams produced some big goals. We weren’t able to complete the comeback with a win, but once we find a way to play with that level of effort and intensity for 60 minutes, we are going to win a lot of games.”  

Senior goalie Josh Sarlo had an amazing performance with 40 saves during the game, and senior forward Justin Brandt assisted three of the four goals for the Jumbos.

On Friday, the Jumbos earned their first victory of the season against the Middlebury Panthers in a game that was scoreless in the second and third periods. All five goals were scored in the last 10 minutes of the first period, with the eventual game-winning goal scored off a power play from Tufts senior defenseman Tom Tresca with a little over a minute left in the first period.

It was Middlebury’s first game of the season due to COVID-19-related concerns postponing prior matchups, and the hosts were the first to get on the scoreboard. However, the Jumbos responded immediately with a goal of their own, as junior forward Mason Kohn’s shot was initially deflected but rebounded and passed to Brandt. Brandt fired a shot of his own, which was finished by Newton to tie the game at 1–1, just 14 seconds after Middlebury had taken its 1–0 lead.

Scott put the Jumbos ahead 2–1 on a power play goal that was assisted by Miller. Miller passed the puck across the front of the goal, where Scott was able to redirect it past the Middlebury goalie. The Panthers responded two minutes later with a goal of their own to tie things up again, but Tresca’s goal at the end of the first period gave the Jumbos their first win of the season.  

“It felt great to get our first win on the road against a NESCAC opponent,” Scott said. “Obviously the season didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but winning a close game like that does a lot for our confidence and momentum moving forward.”

The game was close throughout — Tufts was two for five on power play opportunities, while Middlebury won more face-offs and tallied more shots. Sarlo kept Tufts on top for the rest of the game and finished with 29 saves.

“We have been doing a really good job scoring goals, creating a lot offensively and our power play and penalty kill have performed well,” said Scott.

The Ephs now sit at the top of the NESCAC after defeating the Panthers 3–2 on their own ice on Dec. 5. The Jumbos have two important NESCAC matchups up next on their schedule, as they take on the Colby Mules on Friday and the Bowdoin Polar Bears on Dec. 11, both at home at the Malden Valley Forum.


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