Wickman's OT goal sends Ephs to NESCAC semis
MEDFORD, MA -- After nearly fourteen minutes of scoreless play in overtime, John Wickman '13 scored on a rebound attempt to give the Williams Men's Hockey team (12-8-5) a 4-3 win over the Tufts Jumbos (12-11-2) in the opening round of the NESCAC tournament.
Wickman's goal was set up by Mike Brofft '13, who rushed in on the attack and fired a wrist shot from the right side. Tufts goaltender Scott Barchard made the initial save, but Wickman got his stick on the rebound attempt to net the game-winner. Craig Kitto '15 was also credited for an assist on the play.
"It was a scramble in front of the net, and both goalies are good goalies so we knew we just had to find some way to get to the net," noted head coach Bill Kangas on the game-winning goal.
"We had a goal called back [earlier] in overtime in kind of the same way, another scramble...but two minutes later we had the same opportunity and John found a way to get it in."
With their victory over the #4-seeded Jumbos, the #5-seeded Ephs advance to the NESCAC semifinals next weekend, where they will take on the highest remaining seed in the tournament.
Looking for their first NESCAC tournament win in school history, the Jumbos jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals late in the first period and early in the second period. The Ephs came roaring back in the second frame, though, reeling off three unanswered goals in the period to take a 3-2 lead. The Jumbos tied it at 3-3 early in the third period before Wickman's goal sealed the Williams victory in overtime.
The Jumbos started the scoring with a power-play goal from forward Kyle Gallegos, who deposited his team-leading seventeenth goal with 1:01 remaining in the first period.
After an initial shot from forward Tyler Voigt was blocked on the right side in front of the net, Gallegos circled behind Voigt, corralled the puck, and flicked a wrist shot into the top right corner to put Tufts up 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
The Jumbos carried their momentum into the second period and notched a goal just over a minute into the frame to double their lead to 2-0. Scoring on the play was forward Evan Story, who took a nice cross-ice pass from senior captain Matt Amico and flicked it past Eph goaltender Ryan Purdy '12 on the left side.
After Story's goal, it was all Ephs in the second period.
Facing a 2-0 deficit with their season on the line, the Eph offense came to life, notching three goals in ten minutes to storm back and take the lead.
Peter Mistretta '15 netted the first Williams goal six minutes into the second period on a power play opportunity. The freshman forward received a great backhand feed from Kitto on the left side and flipped a wrist shot past Barchard to narrow the deficit to 2-1.
With five minutes to go in the frame, the Ephs added the equalizer when David Jarrett '15 found Matt Doyle '14 open in front of the net. Doyle went to his backhand and fired a nice shot into the upper right-hand corner to tie the score at 2-2.
Less than three minutes later, the Williams offense capitalized on yet another man-advantage by scoring their second power play goal of the afternoon. Scoring for the Ephs was Evan Dugdale '13, who tapped in a rebound attempt on the doorstep to give Williams its first lead at 3-2. Justin Troiani '12 and Brofft were credited with the assists.
The Jumbos refused to go down quietly, however, as they battled hard early in the final period to try to even the score. Their efforts paid off after another Eph penalty when Gallegos netted his second power play goal of the game. The equalizing score came seven minutes into the period, when defenseman Jared Barker found Gallegos on the left side for a one-time slap shot to tie the game at 3-3.
Both teams would get one more power play chance each in regulation, but Purdy and Barchard held strong for their respective squads to prevent goals and send the game into overtime.
Both senior goaltenders had outstanding performances. Purdy made 41 saves on 44 shots in 73:47 minutes of play, while Barchard stopped 47 of 51 Ephs shots in 73:47 minutes of play.
The overtime period was an eventful one, as both squads notched near-goals that were called off by the referees. Tufts appeared to win the game early on when the puck trickled across the goal line, but Purdy knocked the net off its bearings before it went in and the goal was waved off.
Five minutes later, the Ephs appeared to win the game in a similar play in front of the net, but once again the referees conferred and ruled a no-goal. Finally, at the 13:47 mark in overtime, Wickman deposited his third goal of the season to send the Ephs off with a 4-3 victory.
"That was probably the best game of the three we've played against them [this season]," added Kangas. "Both teams had their chances, and we're pretty fortunate to come out with a win. Pretty happy as well."
Williams will await results from around the league to determine its opponent in the semifinals on March 3rd. If Amherst defeats Hamilton on Saturday night, the Ephs will travel to Amherst on March 3rd to take on the Lord Jeffs in what is sure to be a heated rematch.