Hartford, Conn. - Five Bantams found the back of the net while three rookies recorded their first career point as the No. 4-ranked Trinity College men's hockey team cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Tufts University Jumbos on opening night of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's hockey season at the Koeppel Center in Hartford. Trinity returns to the ice tomorrow for a 4 p.m. game against in-state conference opponent Connecticut College. The Jumbos wrap up the weekend with a 3 p.m. game at Wesleyan.
Trinity got things going 7:24 into the opening period thanks to a goal by senior forward Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass.). Junior Ryan Pfeffer (Canton, Mass.) set up Whitney's goal as he fired a wrister that found the body of Tufts goalie Nik Nugnes (West Barnstable, Mass.) and bounced away. The rebound bounced towards Whitney, who led the Bantams in scoring a year ago, near the back-side post who cleaned up the puck and sent a wrist shot of his own into the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead. Trinity controlled the pace in the opening stanza, posting a 23-6 shot advantage in the period, and nearly doubled up its lead a few minutes later on a 5-on-3 power play but a clean look at the net by sophomore Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) was misfired wide right of the net.
The Bantams opened up a two-goal lead with 8:08 left to play in the first period on a beautiful play by rookies Dylan Healey (Goshen, N.Y.) and Eric Benshadle (Getzville, N.Y.). The pair found themselves alone in the Jumbo zone with open ice to work with when Healey fed Benshadle who drew Nugnes to his side of the net before dishing it back to Healey who then fired home his first career goal. Tufts nearly cut into the lead with 3:39 remaining in the period when Charlie Borek (Durham, N.H.) found himself alone with just Trinity senior goalie Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) to beat. Borek played a toe-drag and tried to dump a backhander past Morin, but the senior netminder stuffed him to keep Tufts off the board and take the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Both teams traded power play scores in the second period to make it a 3-1 game at the end of two. The first came from Tufts at the 7:22 mark when Tyler Scroggins (Allen, Texas) fed Anthony Farinacci (Chatham, N.J.) at the high-slot who fired a wrist shot past the glove of Morin and into the top shelf of the net to cut the deficit to one. The Bantams answered, however, with less than five minutes to play in the period when senior captain Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklerville, N.J.) sent a clapper into the netting thanks to a helper from sophomore defender Liam Feeney (Foxboro, Mass.). The Bantam goal was the lone success of five total power play opportunities while the Jumbos went 1-for-4 with a man advantage.
15:15 went by in the final period before the Bantams scored twice within 1:44 to ice the game. The first goal came when Benshadle put a stick on a Sabitsky slap shot from the point to re-direct it past Nugnes for his first goal in a Trinity uniform. Pfeffer capped off the game's scoring with 3:01 left to go, potting the puck off assists from fellow senior captain Connor Hegarty (Wakefield, Mass.) and James Callahan (Gladstone, N.J.). Callahan had a pair of assists in his first career game for the Bantams.
Morin finished the evening with 23 saves while Nugnes tallied 32 despite being saddled with the loss. Trinity won the shot battle, 38-24, in a game that saw ten total penalties.