Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College Bantams suffered a 2-1 loss against the Wesleyan Cardinals in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's ice hockey action on Friday evening at the Koeppel Community Sports Center. No. 6-ranked Trinity falls to 16-5-2 overall and 13-3-1 in the NESCAC, while the Cardinals improve to 12-6-5 overall and 8-5-4 in the league. The Bantams honored their six-member senior class before the game in the final regular season game in front of the home crowd in Hartford. The two sides go back at it tomorrow afternoon for the final game of the home-away series, scheduled for 3 p.m. at Spurrier-Snyder Rink on Wesleyan's campus.
The Bantams and the Cardinals had equal offensive opportunities in the first period, each team with 10 shots on net. Wesleyan beat Trinity to the scoresheet early in the first period when senior Dylan Holze (Lynbrook, N.Y.) fired a loose puck from the corner to the slot that deflected off a Trinity defender's stick and into the back of the net. Trinity responded with an odd man rush as junior Ryan Pfeffer (Canton, Mass.) slid the puck through the Cardinal defense to sophomore Charlie Zuccarini (Shelton, Conn) who attempted to pull it back across the crease, but was denied with a quick poke check by Wesleyan goalie Tim Sestak (Darien, Conn.).
Wesleyan nearly added to its lead when a fast break left senior netminder Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) alone with two Cardinal skaters coming at him, but Morin came up with a spectacular glove save to avert danger. Play went back in forth until late in the period when Wesleyan entered Trinity territory and senior Cam McCusker (Concord, N.H.) scored from the slot, the result of quick passes from linemates Walker Harris (Boulder, Colo.) and Jordan Jancze (Stillwater, Minn.).
Trinity was unable to come back from Wesleyan's 2-0 first period lead. Sophomores Andy Chugg (Mesa, Ariz.) and Adam Anderson (Hugo, Minn.) led the Bantams special teams by successfully killing three penalties. Trinity's attack was reignited after Wesleyan junior Luke Babcock (Stratham, N.H.) served a two minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct at the 12:19 mark in the second period. Sophomore Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) and first-year James Callahan (Gladstone, N.J.) had looks from the blue line with deflections from senior tri-captain Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklerville, N.J.) in front of the net, but strong goaltending by Sestak and multiple blocked shots from Tyler Wyatt (Bridgeton, N.J.) kept the puck out of the net. With two seconds left in the period, the Bantams had one final opportunity as senior Connor Hegarty (Wakefield, Mass.) passed the puck from the blue line to classmate Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass) who rang the puck off the crossbar from the top of the circle as the Cardinals entered the second intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
In the final period, the Bantams outshot the Cardinals 15-6, but the visitors held tough to come away with the victory. Trinity capitalized late in the period at 19:04 with an extra man on the ice as Sabitsky sent a low shot to the net from the boards that was deflected by Gammill and put past the goalie by Chugg. Wesleyan's defense fought off a final Trinity push in the final seconds to come away with the 2-1 victory.