Wesleyan Late Goal Earns 2-1 NESCAC Men's Hockey Win over Jumbos

MALDEN - Senior Cam McCusker scored with 1:07 remaining in the third period to lift the Wesleyan University men's hockey team to a 2-1 victory at Tufts University in NESCAC action Saturday afternoon at Valley Forum.

Tyler Scroggins has a six-game point streak

During a scrum near the mouth of the Jumbo goal, McCusker was on the spot to score into an open net off assists from sophomore Walker Harris and junior Luke Babcock. Tufts pulled senior goalie Nik Nugnes for the final minute, but their lone shot on goal by senior Brian Brown was saved by Wesleyan sophomore goalie Tim Sestak and the Cardinals closed out the win.

Wesleyan, which is receiving votes in this week's US College Hockey Online poll, improved to 9-4-3 overall and 5-3-2 in the league. The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Cardinals. The Jumbos dropped their second in a row after a 2-0-1 stretch, falling to 3-11-2 and 2-7-1 NESCAC.

Both Sestak and Nugnes were excellent in goal today. Despite the low final score, the action-packed contest featured 32 shots by the Cardinals and 28 by the Jumbos. Both goalies stopped several quality scoring chances throughout the game.

In a scoreless first period, Nugnes made the first clutch stop of the afternoon when he saved an open shot by Babcock right in front of the net with 6:00 on the clock. With time winding down under two minutes, Sestak kept the game scoreless with a save as Jumbo freshman Hayden Smith found the puck alone in the slot.

Both teams would score power play goals in the second period. The Jumbos had an early extra-man advantage, but were thwarted by Sestak on a shot by Brown and then by the post on a chance by sophomore Tyler Scroggins. Then when Tufts went to the box, Wesleyan capitalized as Harris shot high to score at 7:49 of the second period for a 1-0 Cardinal lead. The Jumbos answered less than three minutes later on a man-advantage as Scroggins continued a hot streak with a power play goal at 10:21 to tie the score at 1-1. He now has points in six straight games (3-3-6).

Overtime seemed destined with Nugnes and Sestak continuing their fine play in the third. Nugnes saved a pair of opportunities by McCusker and junior Chris White within seconds of each other at the six-minute mark. Sestak moved quickly to his left to save a shot by Jumbo sophomore Machlan Sawden at the post later in the period.

The game-winning scoring combination of McCusker, Harris and Babcock all finished with two points for Wesleyan. Sestak won his fifth game with 27 saves. Harris was an outstanding 20 for 27 at the face-off dot as the Cardinals won 39 of 64 draws overall. Junior defenseman Sean Ross blocked four shots.

Nugnes had 30 saves in the Jumbo net, his fourth straight game with 30 or more and seventh this season overall. Sophomore Cooper Stahl blocked five shots defensively for the hosts.

Finishing off a five-game home stand today, the Jumbos are off next week until returning to NESCAC action at Williams next Friday night at 7 p.m. The Cardinals will host Amherst College that night.