CHAMPS! Men’s hockey scores record seven goals to claim first-ever NESCAC title

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – It was true pandemonium for the Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team as the Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to move past No. 8 Trinity, 7-2 , winning the program’s first-ever NESCAC. Championship on Sunday afternoon from Lansing Chapman Rink on the Williams College campus. Wesleyan won his first conference title in the Cardinals’ first NESCAC championship game, improving to 15-11-1 this season and securing the league’s automatic bid for the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

The victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in just 10:25 between the second and third period to take a 4-1 lead that proved enough in the end. . Wesleyan’s seven goals set a league record for most goals scored in a NESCAC title game. Six different scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship Game record for most points total by a single skater. A night after making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semi-final win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak was once again terrific, making 38 saves on 40 shots on Trinity’s goal as he continues to deliver in the playoffs for Wesleyan throughout his career.

Wesleyan ends a torrid run through the NESCAC Tournament that included three wins, all away, as the Cardinals upset fourth seed Middlebury (4-2), seeded/No. 9 Williams, ranked at the nationally (3-2 OT) and second seed/No. 8 Trinidad (7-2). The Cardinals are heading to their first NCAA Tournament appearance and are awaiting pairing on Monday morning’s draft show.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GAME:

  • For how lopsided the final score, Trinity controlled the action early on as the Bantams outscored the Cardinals 14-6 in the first and were able to put a house on Riley Prattson’s stick with 9:03 expired in the period
  • More than 20 minutes passed without a score for either side as Trinity appeared to be in complete control, edging the Cardinals nearly 2:1, but the Cardinals managed to equalize thanks to Spencer Fox’s stunning goal. Michael Kerbrat won a battle on the boards, sending the puck to Tyler Wyatt who circled the net to see his pass deflected through the air. As the puck came level with the waste, Fox took a swing with the puck still in the air, connecting perfectly as his shot found the back of the net almost halfway through the second.
  • Wesleyan took the lead late in the second as Harris flicked a wrist across the net which was initially saved by Jonah Capriotti, but Jordan Rose went unmarked at the far post as he hit the rebound for the bring it to 2-1 Cardinals.
  • With very little time left in the second, Wesleyan added a third in the frame as Harris spotted Tyler Levine open behind Trinity’s defensive duo. Harris’ see pass found Levine’s stick who made a breakaway and covered a backhand shot that sent the Wesleyan bench into hysteria as suddenly it was 3-1 Cardinals entering the third
  • Just nine seconds into the final period, Wesleyan’s offense continued as Harris drove the puck past Cam Peritz who carried it into the bantam defensive zone. With Levine open, Peritz hit his teammate in stride and Levine made no mistake, burying a wicked wrist shot to give Wesleyan a 4-1 lead.
  • Trinity responded just 2:19 later, ending Wesley’s 4-0 run, as Michael Grande made it 4-2 Cardinals with over 17 minutes to go.
  • That Bantam goal, however, was quickly answered with another Cardinal strike as Kerbrat took a pass from Fox and wrapped around Capriotti’s net, beating Bantam’s goalie at the far post and pushing the goal that rebuilt Cardinal’s three-goal lead.
  • From the moment of Trinity’s goal to make it 4-2, Sestak ensured the Bantams didn’t come close by making 13 straight saves in the game’s remaining 17 minutes, sealing the first-ever title in the game. Cardinal League.
  • With time running out on the Bantams, Wesleyan found his insurance marker behind an empty net from Quincy Gregg with 2:53 remaining which sealed the Bantams’ fate.
  • Harris added another for good measure, skating back he took a pass from Sestak and fired a full-length shot into the waiting empty net to give the Cardinals one more goal to celebrate before the final horn sounds.

COACH QUOTE:

Head Coach Chris Potter – “The team played very well! We had to play a bit better than we did in the first game. I thought we played scared, too loose and weren’t going to not going there. Our leadership showed us the way and the rest of the guys followed. A lot of work has been put into winning by the former players and coaches and some of them were there to be a part of that.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Wesleyan’s seven goals set a new NESCAC record for most goals scored in a league title game, breaking the previous record of six set by Middlebury in 2004.
  • Five-goal winning margin is largest ever in a NESCAC title game
  • The last time Wesleyan scored seven goals against a NESCAC opponent was on February 8, 2014 in a 7-3 win over Williams.
  • Wesleyan becomes fifth team in NESCAC history to win conference title while ranked fifth or lower
  • Wesleyan becomes the sixth NESCAC school to win a men’s hockey league title, joining Middlebury (eight NESCAC championships), Trinty (five), Amherst (three), Bowdoin (two) and Colby (one)
  • Harris’ four-point night equals the single-game record set by Trinity’s Michael Hawkrigg in the 2016 title game for most points scored by a single player in a NESCAC Championship
  • Ten different cardinals scored at least one point
  • Four different Wesleyan players recorded a multi-point game – Harris (1-3-4), Levine (2-1-3), Fox (1-2-3) and Kerbrat (1-1-2)
  • Trinity beat Wesleyan 40-28 for the match
  • The Cardinals won their first-ever league title despite being outplayed in all three games of the NESCAC tournament
  • Sestak’s assist on Harris’ empty net is the first of his career
  • Harris’ three assists give him 20 for the season as he now has 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 27 games played

FOLLOWING:

  • Wesleyan is waiting to see his first-round opponent as an NCAA Div. The Tournament III selection show is scheduled for Monday morning

Catherine J. Martinez