Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College men's ice hockey team, which finished the 2017-18 regular season with a 17-5-2 overall record and at the top of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) standings with an 14-3-1 league mark, will be the top seed in the NESCAC Championship Tournament for the fourth time and the second time in the last four years. The Bantams will open defense of its 2016 and 2017 conference titles on Saturday, February 24 at 1 p.m. against the Tufts University Jumbos for the second year in a row. The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. No. 2-seeded Connecticut College (10-10-4, 9-5-4) hosts No. 7-seeded Williams (13-10-1, 9-8-1), No. 3-seeded Amherst (11-8-5, 8-5-5) hosts No. 6-seeded Colby (12-10-2, 9-7-2) and No. 4-seeded Hamilton (15-6-3, 9-6-3) hosts No. 5-seeded Wesleyan (12-7-5, 8-6-4) in the other quarterfinal games Saturday.
The Bantams, coached by Matt Greason (8th Season), earned the No. 1 seed early, finishing with five more conference wins than any other team in the league. Trinity is making its 18th straight appearance in the tournament, but enters the postseason having lost two of its final four regular-season games after a nine-game winning streak. Trinity, which owns four NESCAC titles, swept the regular season series, winning, 5-1, and, 4-1, over the Jumbos. The Bantams have a 3-1 advantage over the Jumbos in the NESCAC Championship series. Trinity registered a 4-1 win over Tufts in last year’s quarterfinal. The Bantams are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation and in the East Region.
The Trinity defense, led by senior captains Connor Hegarty (Wakefield, Mass.) and Griffyn Martin (Southport, Conn.), leads the NESCAC with 1.72 goals allowed per game (5th in nation). The Bantams have been whistled for the second-most penalty minutes in the league with 224, but are also second killing penalties with opponents scoring just 11.2 percent of the time on power plays (9th in nation). Sophomore defenseman Liam Feeney (Foxboro, Mass.) is the most prolific offensive blue liner in the NESCAC with 20 points (4g, 16a), while James Callahan (Gladstone, N.J.) is third among defenseman and rookies at any position with 16 points (2g, 14a). Senior goaltender Alex Morin (St. Hubert, Quebec) ranks second in the league in GAA at 1.83 (7th in nation) to go with 515 saves and a .928 save percentage.
The Bantams also rank second in the conference scoring offense at 3.11 goals per game. Feeney is tied for the league lead in assists with 16, while sophomore forward Barclay Gammill (New Canaan, Conn.) is tied for seventh in goals with 10, and senior captain forward Anthony Sabitsky (Sicklerville, N.J.) is tied for eighth in scoring with 21 points. Sabitsky is also tied for second in the conference in power-play goals with five and tied for fourth in game-winners with three. First-year forward Dylan Healey (Goshen, N.Y.), the fourth-leading scorer among NESCAC rookies with 14 points (7g, 7a), is also second in the conference in game-winning goals with four (T9th in nation). Senior forward Tyler Whitney (Wakefield, Mass.) and first-year forward Eric Benshadle (Getzville, N.Y.) have both also tallied over 10 points this winter, as Trinity's balanced offense boasts eight players in double digits in scoring. The Bantams closed the regular season with a split of a home-and-home series against Wesleyan, as Pfeffer led the way with the game-winning goals plus an assist in the 3-1 road win on Saturday.
Tufts, coached by Pat Norton, is 5-15-4 overall and finished eighth in the NESCAC with a 4-11-3 mark against league opponents. Senior forward Brian Brown leads the Jumbos in scoring with nine goals and seven assists, while classmate Nik Nugnes has 529 saves with a .920 save percentage and 2.61 GAA between the Tufts pipes. Tufts has earned a spot in the NESCAC Championship field for the third consecutive season and is seeking its third semifinal appearance in four years.