WATERVILLE, Maine – The Wesleyan University men's ice hockey team scored the first three goals on Sunday afternoon in a pivotal NESCAC matchup against Colby, but the Mules stormed back with a three-goal outburst during the opening 4:29 of the third during a 3-3 draw in Waterville, Maine.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Cardinals (11-6-5, 7-5-4 NESCAC) are currently tied for the fourth slot in the NESCAC standings, and Colby (11-10-1, 8-7-1 NESCAC) is right behind in the sixth slot heading into the final weekend of conference action. Wesleyan will close out the regular season with a home-and-home series with No. 5 Trinity, as the squad will look to earn home-ice advantage in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.
- With the Cardinals leading 3-0 at the start of the third, Mules freshman forward Justin Grillo came through with a quick goal 40 seconds into the period. The Rockville Centre, N.Y. native changed directions behind the net, and came up on the right side, beating Cardinals sophomore goalie Tim Sestak short side and to the top corner.
- Colby was back on the attack immediately, and 32 seconds later trimmed the deficit to 3-2, as sophomore defenseman Mark Leprine sent a shot from the point wide right, which ricocheted off the boards and onto the stick of sophomore forward J.P. Schuhlen, who buried a shot into the back of the net from the lower right circle.
- The hosts completed the comeback with 15:31 left in the period on Grillo's second tally of the game. Senior forward Phil Klitirinos sent a pass to Leprine, who was streaking down the right wing. Leprine ripped a shot on the move, which was saved by Sestak, but Grillo was able to gain control of the rebound and flick it pass the goal line.
- Cardinals junior forward Luke Babcock nearly gave Wesleyan the lead with 2:35 remaining in regulation, but his drive from the slot was turned aside by Mules senior goalie Sean Lawrence.
- The Mules nearly sent their fans into a frenzy with 14 seconds remaining in the five-minute overtime session, as Schuhlen ripped a shot from point-blank range, but Sestak was able to make a quick reaction and deny the attempt.
- Wesleyan took a 1-0 lead at the 4:51 mark of the first, as junior captain Chad Malinowski sent a bullet from the right point, which slammed into the right pipe. Sophomore forward Tyler Kobryn was able to win the puck, and cash in on a turnaround shot in the slot.
- At the 12:57 mark of the opening period, the visitors extended their lead to 2-0. Junior defenseman Sean Ross dumped a puck behind the net from the neutral zone and Lawrence had trouble handling it behind the net. Cardinals senior forward Cam McCusker pursued the puck and was able to send it into the net from the right edge of the crease, while Lawrence was simultaneously trying to get back in position.
- Sophomore forward Walker Harris gave Wesleyan a three-goal cushion with a power-play tally at the 8:42 mark of the second. The Boulder, Colo. native made a great read on a pass by the Mules in the Cardinals' offensive zone and stole the puck, before sending a shot over Lawrence's right shoulder and into the net.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Sestak (7-4-5) denied a season-high 49 shots for the Cardinals, including three crucial ones during the overtime period. Lawrence (10-7-1) was credited with the win for the hosts, stopping 30-of-33 shots.
- The Mules outshot the Cardinals, 52-33, including holding a 42-22 advantage during the final 45 minutes of action.
- Wesleyan went 1-for-2 on the power play, and Colby was 0-for-2.
- The Mules controlled the faceoff circle, winning 53-of-80 draws. Senior forward Michael Rudolf went 21-of-28, freshman forward Spencer Hewson won 15-of-19, and junior forward Nick O'Connor controlled 14-of-25 draws.
- The Cardinals will compete against the Bantams on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Hartford, Conn.