HARTFORD, Conn. – The Wesleyan University men's ice hockey team competed in the semifinals of the NESCAC Tournament for the second straight season on Saturday, but the fifth-seeded Cardinals were defeated by sixth-seeded Colby, which used its high-powered offense to claim a 5-1 win at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
The Cardinals (13-8-5, 8-6-4 NESCAC) posted an incredibly successful 2017-18 season, recording a winning record in the NESCAC for the first time since 2006-07, and winning their third-ever conference playoff game. The group was led by an outstanding senior class, consisting of Dylan Holze, Theo Tydingco, Marty Rubin, Cam McCusker and Jordan Jancze.
Fifteenth-year head coach Chris Potter, and assistants David Lun and Jim Panczykowski '04 have the program heading in a great directon, as it has posted back-to-back, 13-win seasons, which is tied for the second-most, single-season wins in program history.
The Mules (14-10-2, 9-7-2 NESCAC) will play the winner of Saturday's second game, which features No. 6-ranked Trinity and Williams, on Sunday at 2 p.m. during the NESCAC Championship game in Hartford, Conn.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- It did not take long for Colby to get on the scoreboard, as senior defenseman Dan Dupont made a great save in the offensive zone, keeping the puck in at the blue line. He carried toward the right point, and flicked a wrist shot on net, as the puck snuck into the back of the goal at the 3:51 mark of the first. Traffic in front of the net made it difficult for Cardinals sophomore goalie Tim Sestak to locate the puck.
- Wesleyan took advantage of a 5-on-3 opportunity in the second half of the opening period. Junior defenseman Sean Ross slid a pass over to sophomore forward Walker Harris, who unloaded a drive on net from the left circle, which was deflected by Mules senior goalie Sean Lawrence. Wesleyan junior captain Chad Malinowski tried to stuff the rebound pass the goal line, and then the puck squirted out to Ross, who snapped a shot into the right side of the net with 5:20 remaining, tying the game at 1-1.
- Wesleyan still had a 5-on-4 situation for one minute, 16 seconds, but Lawrence came up with some huge saves during a scrum in front of the net.
- Freshman forward Spencer Hewson allowed the Mules to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, burying a one-time slap shot from the left circle on the man advantage with 17 minutes, 15 seconds elapsed.
- With three minutes left in the second, the Cardinals nearly found the equalizer. Holze stole the puck, and then sent a pass over to McCusker in the attacking zone, but Lawrence made an aggressive stop.
- Colby exploded for a three-goal effort in the final frame, with the most important one coming 50 seconds into the period. Senior defenseman Andrew Reis sent an up-ice pass from the defensive zone onto the stick of sophomore forward Kienan Scott. Scott carried down the left wing, and found nylon from the left circle, extending Colby's lead to 3-1.
- Mules senior forward Cam MacDonald put Wesleyan in a three-goal hole with 8:14 remaining in the third. The Westford, Mass. native skated down the right wing with the puck and was heavily defended by a pair of Cardinals, but he was able to flick the puck over Sestak using one hand.
- Colby ended the scoring with 5:03 left on a 5-on-3 goal by senior forward Phil Klitirinos, assisted by junior forward Nick O'Connor and Hewson.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Wesleyan held a narrow 40-39 advantage in shots, including a 30-25 lead during the opening 40 minutes. Colby led the category, 14-10, in the third.
- Lawrence (13-7-2) was outstanding for the Mules, turning away 39-of-40 shots in the win, and Sestak (9-6-5) posted 34 stops in the loss.
- Sophomore forward Tyler Wyatt went 12-of-20 in the faceoff circle, and Harris won 10-of-20 draws for Wesleyan, while senior forward Michael Rudolf went 14-for-25 for Colby. Each team won 28-of-56 faceoffs.
- The two teams have met in the postseason in back-to-back years, as the seventh-seeded Cardinals upset the second-seeded Mules, 5-4, during the quarterfinals of the 2017 NESCAC playoffs in Waterville, Maine.