MEDFORD – The Tufts University hockey team which returns 25 players from last year's roster will have experience on their side when the 2019-20 season opens this weekend in Connecticut with games at Wesleyan and Trinity.
Head coach Pat Norton's team includes seven seniors and 10 juniors. Among that group are 12 Jumbos who have seen action in 40 or more games during their Tufts careers.
|Senior captain Cooper Stahl is one of 17 upperclassmen leading Tufts into the 2019-20 season.|
"I think a strength of our team is that we are not as young as we have been," Coach Norton said. "We have a number of seniors and juniors who have played at this level, and are committed to doing what is needed to have a successful season."
The Jumbos also look to have solid depth through the line-up, which should be a big attribute through the wear and tear of the schedule.
Senior captain Cooper Stahl is the leader of the blue line which also returns seniors Cory Gottfried and Jordan Haney as well as junior Michael Gordon. Together that group has logged 250 games in the Tufts uniform were the leaders of a defense that posted a solid 2.77 goals against average last season. Sophomore Trevor Spence, who scored two goals with six assists from the blue line last year and was a key contributor on the power play, and classmate Rune Kirby give Tufts six solid returnees here.
The defense is backed by an excellent goaltending duo. Junior Drew Hotte finished last season with a .921 save percentage and 2.72 goals against average in 17 games. Josh Sarlo was one of the top freshmen in NESCAC with a .929 save percentage (fourth in the league) and 2.24 goals against mark.
It's no secret that the Jumbos need to score more, and they will look to their veterans along with a talented sophomore class to lead this cause. Farinacci, who had eight goals with five assists for 13 points in 2018-19, Delabruere and Blake McIntyre as seniors, along with juniors Sawden, Mason Babbidge, Charley Borek, Brendan Ryan and Hayden Smith are an experienced core at offensive positions.
Four of the Jumbos' top seven scorers from last season were freshmen and those players will look to take another step forward as sophomores. Nick Shultze (4-5-9 last year) and Justin Brandt (3-6-9) along with Spence were all among the NESCAC's top 20 in freshman scoring last year. Angus Scott (2-5-7) and Cal LeClair (3-2-5) can produce as well.
Tufts qualified for its fifth consecutive conference tournament last season, the longest run of NESCAC appearances (2015–19) by the program since the Jumbos joined the league in 2001. They'll look to continue that streak and then attack the post-season in the competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCSAC).
"The team goals are to first, make the NESCAC Tournament, second host a first-round playoff game, and finally, win a NESCAC Championship," Coach Norton said. "I believe that should always be the goal of this program. The league is so tight from top to bottom, that getting into the tournament, whether first or eighth, you always have an opportunity to win the league."