Tufts men’s ice hockey defeated Wesleyan and lost to Trinity over the weekend. Entering the games, the Jumbos had an overall record of 1–9–1 and a NESCAC record of 1–5–1. Tufts was looking to improve their positioning in the standings as they entered a stretch of in-conference games.
The Friday game was the second contest of the season between the Tufts Jumbos and the Wesleyan Cardinals. In their previous meeting at the beginning of the season, the two teams tied 3–3 in overtime. The Cardinals’ overall record entering the game stood at 5–5–2, while their conference record was 4–2–2.
The first period started out with both teams very evenly matched, and the game looked like it was going to be a more defensive contest. Despite a few chances to score for each side, both goalies were able to keep the opposing teams out of their respective nets. Senior goalkeeper Josh Sarlo made 13 saves in the period as the Cardinals outshot the Jumbos 26–13.
The action picked up in the second period however, as the Cardinals got on the scoreboard less than five minutes in on a deflected shot that found its way into the back of the Tufts net. The Jumbos quickly responded just four minutes later and evened the score on a wraparound goal by senior forward Brendan Skarda. Wesleyan outshot Tufts again in the second period, 22–15, but the score stayed tied at 1–1 heading into the third period.
Tufts picked up momentum in the third period and eight minutes in, they were able to score on a power play. Senior forward Justin Brandt sent an excellent pass to senior defenseman Tom Tresca to put the Jumbos in the lead 2–1. The lead didn’t last long, as it took the Cardinals just a minute and a half to tie the game once again by collecting a loose puck in front of the net and slotting it home. Neither team scored for the rest of the period, and the game went into overtime.
The overtime period consisted of 3-on-3 play, and it didn’t take long for Tufts to put the finishing touches on the match. Just one minute into the period, sophomore defender Cam Newton received a pass from sophomore forward Andrew Maynard and made a nifty move around a defender to shoot the puck into the back of the Cardinals’ net and end the game with a Jumbos win.
“I think we came in there really focused and ready to play,” senior captain Nick Schultze said. “I thought that was the best 60 minutes that we’ve played.”
Riding off of the high from the overtime win the previous afternoon, Tufts entered Saturday’s game against Trinity with vigor and energy. The Trinity Bantams are one of the better teams the Jumbos have faced this season, losing to them in the previous matchup 6–4. The Bantams were 7–6 overall and 6–4 in the conference. The Jumbos knew that they had a difficult task ahead of them.
“We knew we had to jump on them early, and we did. We really just tried to stick with that lead,” first year forward Sami Hakkareinen said.
Early in the first period, Tufts did a great job of putting pressure on Trinity and keeping the puck in their offensive zone. They were able to fire multiple shots on goal that were saved by the Trinity goalie in the first few minutes. With 14 minutes left in the period, a Trinity defenseman lost his footing and Tufts was able to capitalize, sending a pass to the far post where first year forward Tyler Sedlak was waiting to put it away and put the Jumbos up 1–0.
The Jumbos didn’t relinquish any pressure on the Bantams, getting a 2–on–1 breakaway ten minutes in, which resulted in a great shot by Skarda. It took an amazing save by the Trinity goalkeeper to keep the score at 1–0. The relentless pressure paid off however, and Tufts got on the scoreboard again less than a minute later. Schultze was able to scoop up a rebound and fire the puck into the top left corner of the net to double the Jumbos’ lead.
Just after the goal, Trinity began to gain momentum, and they were able to score with eight minutes remaining in the period to make the score 2–1. Tufts goalie Josh Sarlo made an amazing glove save on a breakaway to hold off the Bantams, but just minutes later Trinity was able to tie the game 2–2. Both goalies were busy throughout the period. Sarlo, the busier of the two, made a whopping 18 saves.
During the majority of the second period, the Jumbos found themselves pinned in their defensive zone. Multiple icing calls resulted in faceoffs in the Trinity offensive zone. The Jumbos were able to manage a few chances on net, including one opportunity with 11 minutes to play in the period where first year forward Clark Bolin received a backdoor pass, but his shot went just over the crossbar. Tufts made a few stellar defensive plays throughout the period, one of which included Hakkareinen making a fantastic diving stop to prevent a shot on goal for Trinity. Late in the period, however, Tufts had a penalty called on them that resulted in a power play for Trinity. The Bantams capitalized and took the lead 3–2. Just minutes later another penalty was called on Tufts, and Trinity scored on the power play once more, doubling their lead.
“As we get closer to the playoff race, [we have to] kind of minimize those undisciplined penalties. … It gives us a better chance of winning the game,” Schultze said.
Trinity continued off of their momentum and finished in the third period scoring twice more to make the final score 6–2.
The Jumbos’ record now stands at 2–10–1 overall and 2–6–1 in the NESCAC. They are currently ninth in the conference. With a stretch of eight conference games coming up, the Jumbos are looking to improve their standing and make a push for the playoffs.
“It’s gonna be an uphill battle. We have some points to get on the road, but we’re ready for it,” Hakkareinen said. “We need the next eight games to be the best hockey that we play all season.”