Men’s ice hockey bests Connecticut College in weekend series

The Tufts men's hockey team in Malden Valley Forum is crowded together on Oct. 21, 2021. Courtesy Tufts Athletics

Over the weekend, the Tufts Jumbos got the better of the Connecticut College Camels, winning their Friday night matchup by a score of 3–2 and tying their Saturday game 2–2. 

Entering the weekend, the Jumbos sat just below the Camels at No. 9 in the NESCAC standings. Tufts was coming off of a loss the previous weekend to a talented Williams team. Tufts had only played one of their two scheduled games, so they had the advantage of fresher legs coming into this series. Connecticut College, on the other hand, played a midweek game and were able to scrape out a tie against the top-ranked Colby Mustangs. Both teams knew this series could prove to be crucial in the NESCAC playoff race.

“It always seems to come down to us and [Connecticut College] in that race for the eighth spot, and with them so close to us in the standings, we knew that we would definitely need to grab the majority of the points this weekend,”senior goalie Josh Sarlo said.

In the Friday game, the Jumbos came out hot as junior forward Mason Kohn scored his first goal of the season within the first two minutes to put Tufts up 1–0. Kohn was able to deflect sophomore defender Jack Hughes’ shot from the point into the back of the net. The rest of the period was less action-packed until the very end, when Sarlo made an important stop on a point blank shot to keep Tufts in the lead. 

In the second period, Tufts was once again able to jump on Connecticut College early. Senior forward Justin Brandt gathered the puck from behind the net and connected with senior forward Angus Scott, who coolly shot the puck home and doubled the Jumbos’ lead. Later in the period, the Jumbos scored once again on a power play. Sophomore defenseman Cam Newton and first-year forward Harrison Bazianos expertly worked the puck around the offensive zone before first-year forward Brennan Horn put the shot away to make the score 3–0 Tufts. 

The Camels were able to make a push towards the end of the second period. They substituted sophomore goalie Cam Fernandez for the more experienced senior goalie Mike McHale. The Camels were then able to score a shorthanded goal before the end of the period to make the score 3–1. 

Connecticut College continued on that momentum into the third period, scoring once more in the first five minutes to cut the Jumbos’ lead to 3–2. The Tufts defense was able to hold for the rest of the period, killing a power play with only a few minutes remaining to seal the win. Sarlo was able to follow up his NESCAC Player of the Week performance from the previous week with another solid outing. 

Horn commented on how the Jumbos stopped opposing power plays.

“It was something we focused on kind of going into it, we worked on our penalty kill all week during practice. … We executed it well and came out with the win,” Horn said.

In the second game, offensive production started out much slower for both sides. Although Tufts dominated the opening minutes of the game in terms of possession, they weren’t able to convert any of their shots into goals. Connecticut College regained some momentum and made the final minutes of the period a more competitive affair. Sophomore goalie Peyton Durand made a few key stops on breakaways to keep the game scoreless throughout the period. The Camels outshot the Jumbos in the period 12–11.

During the second period the Camels continued to ride their momentum from the first, putting lots of pressure on the Jumbos’ defense. The Jumbos didn’t help their case by committing two penalties throughout the period, but were able to kill the power play both times. Durand proved crucial to keeping the game tied 0–0, making a whopping 19 saves in the period, as the Camels made the game feel more lopsided, outshooting the Jumbos 19–6. 

In the third period, the Camels finally broke through the Jumbos’ defense and scored in the first two minutes. They followed the goal up with another one just a minute later to double their lead to 2–0. It took a bit of individual brilliance to bring Tufts back into the game. With 11 minutes remaining in the game, Bazianos collected the puck from behind the net and rifled a shot into the roof of the net to make the score 2–1.

Feeling the pressure of the possibility of another late game loss, the Jumbos redoubled their efforts, and with just four minutes remaining, the fruits of their labor paid off. Sophomore defender Jacob Iida played a nifty pass to the front of the net where sophomore forward Andrew Maynard was waiting to put the puck away and tie the game.

“Anytime you can have younger guys like that contributing and … buying in, … I think it speaks a lot to the depth of our team,” Scott said.

The Jumbos were able to keep up the pressure on the Camels until the whistle but didn’t manage to score again before the game went into overtime. In the 3-on-3 overtime period, Tufts dominated possession and was hammering shots on the Connecticut College goal. Unfortunately, the Jumbos couldn’t force the puck in, and the game ended in a 2–2 tie. 

Tufts’ record now stands at 4–11–2 overall and 4–7–2 in the conference. It is now tied for No. 8 with Connecticut College. This stretch of conference games will determine whether or not Tufts makes the playoffs.

“I think we’re really trending in a positive direction, and [we are] really looking forward to finishing out the year on a strong note here,” Scott said.