Despite Disappointing OT Loss to USM, Men's Ice Hockey Gains NESCAC Tourney Spot
Building a 3-1 lead after two period thanks to a pair of goals from Keith Buehler '14 (#13, photo) and a marker from Anthony DePietto '11, Wesleyan yielded a pair of goals to visiting Southern Maine in the third period that sent the game into overtime, thern gave up the game-winner just 1:02 into the extra frame. Despite the setback Fri., Feb. 18, the Cardinals locked up the eighth and final spot in the upcoming NESCAC tournament as Conn. College fell to Norwich, 4-2. The best the Camels can do is tie the Cardinals record-wise for eighth place when the teams close out the regular-season Sat., Feb. 19, but Wesleyan defeated Conn, 3-2, for the head-to-head tie-breaker. Wesleyan's regular-season finale brings U. of New England to Middletown.
As for the playoffs, Wesleyan has qualified for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign and will play at the top seed in the opening round Sat., Feb. 26. Heading into the last contest, Hamilton controls its own destiny for the top spot with a one-point lead in the standings. If the Continentals defeat Babson in their finale, Wesleyan will visit Hamilton, a team the Cardinals knocked off, 3-2, on Nov. 20 in Middletown. Amherst and Middlebury still have a chance of securing the top seed.
Against Southern Maine, Buehler began the day’s scoring with an unassisted goal at 18:53 of the first period, picking up a loose puck in center ice and moving past the Huskies defense to beat the USM netminderhigh to the stick side. After the Huskies tied the score early in the second period, DePietto gave Wesleyan back the lead, 2-1, at 15:33 of the second period with a slap shot from the right circle that hit the goalie, then banged off the right post into the net. Buehler padded the lead with his seventh goal of the season, improving his team scoring lead to 7-12-19, with a wrister from the left circle at 17:57 of the middle stanza.
But a power-play goal, the second of the night for USM, made it 3-2 with 10:26 to go in the third and the tying goal came with 6:35 left as keeper Glenn Stowell '13, who had 26 stops, could not track down a high wrist shot from the right circle on a give-and-go situation.