MALDEN – The Tufts University hockey team dropped their home opener by a 2-1 score to Middlebury College in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play on Friday night at the Valley Forum.
|Freshman Alex Lycett tallied his first career goal.|
The Jumbos fall to 0-3-0 on the season and in NESCAC contests. The Panthers improve to 2-1-0 overall and in league games.
Middlebury won an offensive zone faceoff, following a five-minute major penalty on the Jumbos. Owen Powers won the draw to his right for Antoine Belisle. His shot beat sophomore goaltender Josh Sarlo. That is Belisle's first career goal.
The Jumbos nearly responded with a strong shot by junior Mason Babbidge. Senior Cory Gottfried was crashing the net for a rebound, which he got, but Panther Brian Ketchabaw managed to make both saves.
The Panthers grabbed the next tally with 3:44 remaining in the first period. Danny Tighe won the attacking zone faceoff back to his right point in Billy Dobensky. His shot was blocked by Tufts senior Ross Delabruere. However, the deflection found Tighe who fired a shot by Sarlo to give Middlebury a 2-0 lead.
Middlebury controlled much of the play early in the second period. After forcing a turnover at the attacking blueline, Mitchell Allen had a break-away but Sarlo stuck with him and stopped him on the forehand.
Tufts had a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half with just over six minutes to play in the middle stanza as junior Hayden Smith found himself wide open in a three-on-one, but the feed for a one-timer from the slot was just out of his reach.
The teams headed to the second intermission the same way they headed to the first, with Middlebury leading 2-0.
After closing out a penalty, Middlebury had a great opportunity to extend the lead. Allen found himself open on the doorstep, but Sarlo sliding to his left kept the deficit at two.
Freshman Alex Lycett got the Jumbos on the board with just over 10 minutes to play in the third period. A shot by Smith was blocked by the Panther defense. The deflection came out to sophomore Trevor Spence who found Lycett down near the goal and his shot beat Ketchabaw.
Middlebury had a chance to regain their two-goal lead with a two-on-one, but the Jumbos cleared the chance away.
Down the stretch, Middlebury controlled most of the play and forced the Jumbos to win puck battles in the corner or drive the full length of the ice. Lycett, Delabruere, and senior Jordan Haney got shots on Ketchabaw in the final 10 minutes while many others were contested shots that were blocked away.
The Jumbos outshot the Panthers by a 25-23 margin. Middlebury was 1 for 4 on the powerplay while the Jumbos were 0 for 3.
Sarlo falls to 0-2-0 on the season after making 21 saves. Ketchabaw improves to 1-1-0 in the 24-save performance.
Tufts is back in action on Saturday when they host Williams College in a NESCAC matchup starting at 4 pm. Middlebury heads to Connecticut College for a 3 pm game on Saturday.