By Trevor Wenners
Athletic Communications Assistant
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – It did not take long for Tim Sestak to make a name for himself in a Cardinals' uniform.
The sophomore transfer on the Wesleyan University men's ice hockey team compiled an exceptional 45-save performance – in his first victory as a Cardinal – as the squad downed then-No. 8 ranked Hamilton, 5-3, on Dec. 3 in Clinton, N.Y.
|Tim Sestak remains undefeated in net through four games this year with a 1-0-3 record.|
Sestak, who hails from Darien, Conn., came up with 17 crucial stops in the third period, as the unit avenged its 5-4 loss to the Continentals in the semifinals of the 2017 NESCAC Tournament.
This was a statement win in net for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound goalie, but Sestak has been strong in between the pipes all season, as he is undefeated through four games with a 1-0-3 mark.
Sestak, who suited up in his freshman year for Hobart in Geneva, N.Y., leads the squad with a .922 save percentage, to go along with 141 saves for an average of 35.3 per game. He has recorded 30 or more saves three times.
Sestak's immediate and considerable impact have been vital reasons behind Wesleyan's quick start at 3-1-3 overall and 1-1-2 in the NESCAC. He took time to reflect on his outstanding start, while touching on the reasons behind his decision to enroll in the institution.
Q: Could you talk about the excitement around getting your first win as a Cardinal at Hamilton?
A: It felt awesome to get my first win as a Cardinal, especially being on the road against a ranked Hamilton team. Obviously, I would have liked to cross it off my list sooner, but we had a couple tough bounces in earlier games that we tied, and were not able to get the results. It definitely made it that much better that it was such a good team win.
Q: Hamilton fired 19 shots on net during the third. How were you able to handle that workload?
A: They scored with a minute left in the second to cut our lead to two, so we knew they would come out with a big push in the third and we did have to push right back. I think the guys in front of me did an excellent job. It definitely makes my job easier when my teammates are giving me three, four or five goals, so I am not feeling any sort of pressure to get a shutout every night.
Q: Why did you transfer to Wesleyan?
A: When I was going through the transfer process and looking at a bunch of schools, Wesleyan really stuck out to me both academically and athletically. I think the reputation of the school speaks for itself, and on top of that I saw what the team was able to do last year, rebuilding after a down season, and I got pretty excited about the opportunity to join this group.
Q: After losing on opening night, the team has gone undefeated in six straight games. Could you talk about the group's confidence level right now?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is belief. In hockey, teams definitely have to have a certain swagger going into a game and our unit is embracing that, which is really a testament to our captains, upperclassmen and leaders. They are all unbelievable hockey players, but they have gone through some difficult seasons yet they have stayed mentally tough, and they set a great example.
Q: A big turning point in the early season was when the squad overcame a two-goal deficit in the third during a 3-3 tie draw against Tufts. Could you talk about how that comeback has galvanized this run?
A: Obviously, the outcome of the Tufts game was not what we wanted, but I think you are absolutely right that the third period was important for us. I do not want to put too much praise on a tie because we cannot be satisfied any time coming back from a big deficit, but being able to bounce back early in the season was very positive for our mentality going forward. After the game, our coaches and leaders really did a great job emphasizing that we should be far from content, but that we showed a lot of character and resiliency in that game, and those intangibles are crucial to have more success going forward.
Q: What is the most enjoyable part of playing goalie and what is the most difficult aspect of the position?
A: As goalies, we have to deal with highs and lows more than the rest of the team. A lot of times we are treated like the hero after a good team win, and there are times when its easiest to put the blame on us instead. Mentally, we have to stay even-keeled, which can be difficult at times in such a short and intense season. I love that the position really lets us go out and compete every single day.
Q: If you could design the perfect day, what would it include?
A: I will take a NESCAC win as a great day any time, but I would say a post-practice round of golf with the boys. That would be my perfect day.
Q: Could you talk about your Wesleyan experience so far?
A: I have not been here for long, but I feel a lot of pride in this school. Getting to put on the jersey and compete for this school really is the greatest privilege I have had in my experience here. If I could describe Wesleyan to someone else, I would say it is an unbelievable intellectual community that pushes you to be the best version of yourself. Being around people from so many backgrounds that are so driven and talented has really motivated me to grow as a person.