Trinity, ranked ninth nationally in Division III, build a 6-2 lead in the second period, survived a Wesleyan rally and came away with an 8-5 NESCAC men's ice hockey victory Sat., Feb. 22 in the regular-season finale for both squads. With the win, the Bantams secured the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament and will have home ice throughout the playoffs. Wesleyan has locked up the eighth seed in the standings as Hamilton, currently ninth, fell to Williams Saturday. As a result, Wesleyan will be at Trinity for the opening round Sat., March 1. The two met in the first round of the playoffs a year ago with Trinity coming from behind to grab a 5-4 OT victory. This time, the game was all Trinity as the Bantams rolled to a 9-1 win, ending the Cardinals' season.
NESCAC leading scorer junior Jackson Brewer was a set-up man throughout the afternoon, dishing out five assists for Trinity to up his point total for the season to 50 on 14 goals and 36 assists. Sophomore Michael Hawkrigg, second in the league in scoring, added two goals and two assists to his totals which now stand at 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points. Wesleyan got a goal and two assists from Keith Buehler '14 (#13, main photo), ranking him second on the Cardinals in scoring with a team-leading 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. Just ahead of him with a goal on the day is Elliott Vorel '17 with 13-13-26. Wesleyan also got a pair of goals from Jay Matthews '16 (#12, photo insert upper right), giving him 9-7-16.
Wesleyan generated a 41-31 edge in total shots. Senior Ben Coulthard made 36 saves for Trinity while Nolan Daley '16, in his first game back since an injury Jan. 4, made 23 stops.
Trinity's power play, which came into the game connecting at a solid 28 percent on the year, was ultra-efficient, converting on each of the first four Wesleyan penalties, one in the first period, two in the second and one in the third. The only failed power play came as Wesleyan was whistled down with just nine seconds left in the contest. Four different Bantams converted with the extra man as freshman Sean Orlando at 16:25 of the first, freshman Ryan Cole at 12:12 of the second, Hawkrigg at 17:31 of the second and junior Michael Flynn at 18:04 of the third all put one home with a man-advantage. Wesleyan was sharp on the power play as well, scoring on three of six tries with Buehler, Vorel and Matthews all turning the trick. Trinity's final goal at 18:21 of the third came into an empty net with sophomore Ben Hjalmarsson netting his second of the contest and fourth of the year.
Trinity took the lead for good, 2-1, at 16:25 of the first on Orlando's power-play goal during a pile-up in front of Daley. Trinity made it 3-1 in the opening minute and the second period and pushed the advantage to 6-2 late in the frame. Wesleyan ended the period with a goal at 18:56, then scored two power-play goals to begin the third period, narrowing the gap to 6-5 with 14:34 to play. It stayed that way until Flynn pushed the difference to 7-5, followed by the empty-netter.
In the NESCAC playoff game at Trinity, the Bantams dominated the first two periods, outshooting Wesleyan, 31-12, while generating a 7-0 lead. The Cardinals came to life in the third period with a 19-6 edge in shots, but only managed a late power-play goal by Buehler, who ended his career with 112 points. Four of Trinity's goal came via the power play. The Cardinals closed ot the year with an 11-12-2 overall record.