Unleashing an offensive flurry not seen by a Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team in 19 years, the Cardinals rolled past visiting U. of New England, 14-1, in the regular-season finale for both squads Sat., Feb 19. Each team will be the eighth seed in their upcoming post-season tournament, Wesleyan in the NESCAC and UNE in the ECAC East. This was only the second meeting between the Cardinals and Nor’easters as UNE stepped in to cover the spot held by Salem St. in the ECAC East during the 2009-10 season. UNE defeated Wesleyan, 6-1, in Biddeford, Me. last year in the initial contest.
All but three Cardinal skaters picked up a scoring point in the game, 11 of them with at least two points, led by Nik Tasiopoulos '14 (#24, photo insert upper left), who racked up three goals and three assists for six points. It is the single-highest game scoring output by a Wesleyan player in more than 11 years and upped his scoring for the year to a team-leading 21 points on 11 goals and 10 assists. The last Cardinal with six points in a game was Steve Cucinatti '01 with three goals and three assists vs. UMass Boston Dec. 1, 2000. Right behind Tasiopoulos with five points on the day was Geoff Mucha '12 (#6, main photo), who had a pair of goals and three helpers, giving him a team-high 11 goals on the campaign. Dan Sullivan '11 had his best career offensive output with four assists while Tommy Hartnett '14 had a pair of goals and an assist for a three-point afternoon. Also with a three-point day was Anthony DePietto '11 (one goal, two assists). Adam Kaiser '13 came up with two goals as the fourth Cardinal with multiple tallies.
Wesleyan got on the board in the opening minute of play with Hartnett getting things started. It was 2-0 at 2:12 of the first period before UNE registered its lone goal at 3:48. At that point, UNE, coming off its fourth win in its last eight games Friday night at Trinity, 5-4, after a 2-13 start, looked to have a little momentum. Wesleyan cashed in twice more before the end of the period on goals by Brett Bandazian '12 and Kaiser for a 4-1 lead. Wesleyan tacked on five goals in each of the final two periods for the final margin with a 42-21 shot differential for the game. Wesleyan did not register a power-play goal until the third period as there was only one penalty called in the game over the first two periods, that coming late in the second frame against UNE. There were 11 penalties whistled down leading to four more short-handed situations for the Nor’Easters and three by Wesleyan in the final stanza. Wesleyan connected for two power-play goals while UNE was 0-for-3.
Wesleyan starting keeper Matt Hadge '13 posted 13 saves while covering the net for the opening 40 minutes before giving way to Jake Smith '14 for his first varsity action of the year. He picked up seven saves in the third period, several of them noteworthy. Three keepers shared goaltending duties for the Nor'Easters.
The last time Wesleyan collected as many as 14 goals in a game was back on February 21, 1992 during a 15-5 win over Villanova when both teams were members of the ECAC South Division. The last 13-goal margin of victory for the Cardinals came February 1, 1983 by the identical 14-1 score over Nichols. After exhaustive research by Wesleyan sports info intern Ben Cohen, it was determined that the 14 goals was the highest total by any NCAA ice hockey team (men or women, all divisions) in over three years. The last 14-goal output came from Adrian vs. Minn.-Crookston on Jan. 19, 2008, a span of three years, one month.
Next up for Wesleyan is a trip to NESCAC top-seeded Hamilton for a first-round playoff game Sat., Feb. 26. Wesleyan is in the tournament for the first time since 2007-08 and is the only NESCAC squad to own a victory over the Continentals this season. Hamilton is 4-0-4 vs. the rest of the conference but dropped a 3-2 decision to Wesleyan the second game of the year (Nov. 20) in Middletown. The game at Hamilton will feature a video webcast which can be watched by clicking < here >. The student radio station also will transmitting an audio webcast which can be heard by clicking < here >.