Men’s Ice Hockey Returns to NESCAC Semifinals

Men’s Ice Hockey Returns to NESCAC Semifinals

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The seventh-seeded Wesleyan University men's ice hockey team is ready to compete in its first NESCAC Semifinal game since 2010-11. The Cardinals will take on the No. 1 seed and host, Hamilton College at Russell Sage Rink on Saturday March 4th at approximately 4:15 p.m.  

NESCAC RELEASE  l  CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL

Wesleyan is looking to make its first NESCAC Finals appearance in team history, and in order to do so, it will have to upset a higher seed on the road once again. Last week, the Cardinals defeated No. 2 Colby, 5-4. The Mules came into the quarterfinal match-up ranked No. 13 in the country, and had won their previous three games.

The Continentals, who are currently the eighth-ranked team in Division III, are in search of their first NESCAC Title as well. Hamilton advanced to the semifinals with a 4-2 victory over No. 8 Bowdoin in the first round.

Saturday's first semifinal game will feature No. 3 Trinity against No. 4 Williams at 1 p.m. The winners of each semifinal will advance to the title game, which will be held at Sage Rink at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 5th. The champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

LIVE COVERAGE

The Northeast Sports Network (NSN) will provide a live webcast of all games, and live stats will also be available for all three games. 

SCOUTING WESLEYAN (13-8-4, 7-7-4 NESCAC)
Schedule * Roster * Stats 

The Cardinals returned to the tournament after a two-year hiatus with a 7-7-4 record in league play. Senior James Kline leads the team with 25 points, while NESCAC Rookie of the Year Walker Harris '20 is second with 21. Senior Dawson Sprigings and sophomore George Blinick have both seen time between the pipes this season. Blinick ranks second in the NESCAC in goals-against average (1.66) and save percentage (.944), and has three shutouts to his credit. Sprigings has started 16 games and owns a .906 save percentage with a 2.55 goals-against average. Wesleyan remains tops in Division III in penalty kill as it has successfully killed off 93.7% of penalties (74-of-79). 

The 13 wins by the Cardinals is currently tied for the best in program history, joining the 1980-81 and 1988-89 teams. Wesleyan also won its first outright Little Three title since the 1986-87 season.

SCOUTING HAMILTON (18-3-4, 11-3-4 NESCAC)
Schedule * Roster * Stats

The Continentals have earned the top seed with their 11-3-4 conference record, and are making their first semifinals appearance since 2010. They sport the league's best defense allowing just 1.60 goals per game. Goaltender Evan Buitenhuis, who was named NESCAC Player of the Year, is the conference leader in goals per game (1.52) and save percentage (.948). Hamilton's offense is led by Neil Conway (24 points) and Brandon Willett (21 points).

During the season, the Cardinals went 0-1-1 against the Continentals with a 2-0 defeat at home and a 3-3 tie on the road. The two teams have met once in the postseason as Wesleyan upset Hamilton in the first round  in the 2010-11 season. The Cardinals, who were ranked eighth, defeated the top seeded Continentals 5-2 on the road. 

SCOUTING TRINITY (16-6-3, 11-5-2 NESCAC)
Schedule * Roster * Stats

The Bantams, who are the defending champions, entered the tournament as the third seed with a 11-5-2 record in NESCAC play. Trinity advanced to the final four with a 4-1 victory over No. 6 Tufts in the quarterfinals. The league's top scoring offense (4.24) is led by Sean Orlando and Ryan Whitney, who have 31 points each. To go along with the high-powered offense, the Bantams also sport the conferences' second-best defense, allowing just 1.84 goals per game.

Wesleyan and Trinity have met 87 times overall and twice in the tournament. The Bantams have come out on top in the two postseason meetings, and swept the regular season series by scores of 7-2 and 3-0.

SCOUTING WILLIAMS (14-8-3, 10-5-3 NESCAC)
Schedule * Roster * Stats

The fifth seeded Ephs owned a 10-5-3 mark in league play this season, and came from behind to defeat No. 6 Amherst by a score of 2-1 in the first round. David Italiano is tied for the NESCAC lead in points (31) and assists (19). Williams has made the finals on four different occasions, but is still searching for its first title.

The Cardinals have never faced the Ephs in the postseason, and went 1-1-0 against their Little Three rival this season. The 3-2 victory at Williams snapped the Ephs' five game unbeaten streak against Wesleyan.


TEAM COMPARISONS

 

 No. 1 Hamilton 

 No. 3 Trinity 

 No. 5 Williams 

 No. 7 Wesleyan 

Games

25

25

25

25

Goals

80

106

76

76

Assists

131

164

121

118

Saves

675

565

561

659

Save Percentage

.944

.925

.899

.917

Goals Against Avg.

1.58

1.82

2.49

2.37

Power Play

15.9%

19.5%

24.5%

22.3%

Penalty Kill

90.1%

88.1%

78.3%

93.7%


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