Men’s Hockey Season Ends in Loss to Middlebury Panthers
Down by one with five minutes remaining in the third period of this weekend’s NESCAC tournament game against Middlebury, Wesleyan still possessed the budding feeling that it could pull off a crucial victory. After all, earlier in the season the Cardinals had managed to earn an overtime triumph against the very same Middlebury team. A few minutes before, with just under nine minutes to play, the Cardinals picked off a pass and James Albrecht ’15 netted the tying goal. Over a month earlier, Albrecht had worked similar magic when he scored the overtime game-winner against the Panthers. Not only that, but the Cardinals had capitalized on the past two overtime opportunities they were afforded. The stars seemed to be aligning for another patented come-from-behind victory. However, this night the Cardinals were not so fortunate.
The goal from Albrecht on assists from Brad Improta ’14 and Nick Craven ’13 offered Wesleyan a brief edge in momentum during the third period. However, that feeling ended shortly when Wesleyan fell behind again the Cards conceded the go-ahead goal with merely 3:03 remaining in the game. The Cardinals were not given the chance to seize overtime glory, falling 2-1 in the third-seeded Middlebury squad. Goaltender Glenn Stowell ’13 saved 27 shots in the contest, and finished his season with a commendable .917 save percentage.
As expected with a game of this magnitude, the play took a while to open up. After a scoreless first period, Middlebury finally broke the silence on the scoreboard late in the second. It held that lead until nine minutes to go in the third period. Playing from behind or tied the entire game did not enable the Cardinals to utilize the style of play they desired. Instead, the team was held to few scoring chances, and by the end of the game, Wesleyan had only managed 12 shots on net. Some of this can be attributed to Middlebury’s defense, but another portion of the responsibility comes from the tentative style employed during such an important game.
Despite being outshot 29-12, the Cardinals were always within striking distance, seemingly one play away for most of the game. The unavoidable fact that barring a national championship the team’s season would end in a loss makes it difficult to immediately appreciate the impressive accomplishments their season garnered. Without a doubt, this was the senior class’s best year at Wesleyan—a fitting testament to the hard work it has given to the program. Even more, the team’s leading scorer Nik Tasiopoulos ’14 is a semifinalist for the Concannon Award, given to the best Div. II/III player in New England.
The future provides many opportunities to speculate on the what-ifs and the potential for the men’s program. However, the present serves as a great time to appreciate a tremendous season from the Cardinals and applaud the team for its effort, resiliency, and accomplishment.