MALDEN, MA -- The Williams Ephs (4-1-0, 3-0-0 NESCAC) defeated the Tufts Jumbos (1-3-2, 0-2-1 NESCAC) 2-0 tonight at the Valley Forum II. Junior George Hunkele scored the opening goal of the game in the first for the Ephs, and cashed in an assist in the second to lead Williams to a 2-0 victory.
Senior Noah Klag started in goal for the Ephs, starting in his third game of the season. Klag came into this contest with three goals against in just two games, sporting a .944 save percentage on the season thus far. In net for the Jumbos was junior Mason Pulde. This game marked Pulde's fourth start of the season, and came into the match with a .909 save percentage. Klag recorded a shutout, making 36 saves, while Pulde made 31 saves on 33 shots faced.
"I think we had good team defense tonight. Noah played really well in goal, he covered the puck when he needed to, quieted things and kept the game in control," commented Williams head coach Bill Kangas. "In front of him, the guys did a good job clearing pucks. Overall, it was definitely one of the best shot blocking games we have had."
The first period was spent heavily on the man advantage for Williams; Tufts was called for three minor penalties, while Williams was called for one. At 15:01 of the first, Jumbo Sean Kavanagh went to the box for slashing, which resulted in Williams getting their third power play opportunity of the game. Coming into the contest, the Ephs had been successful on the power play 22.2% of the time this season. The Ephs capitalized on this opportunity, when at 16:54, George Hunkele received a pass from senior James McNamara, and was able to fire one past Pulde off of a one-timer, bringing the score to 1-0, and rounding out action for the first 20 minutes of the game. This marked Hunkele's third goal of the season, and McNamara's third assist.
"On the power play, we have been moving the puck very well, we had some good looks," noted Kangas. "If anything we could have had a couple more on the power play, but I thought we were pretty sharp."
The second period brought more back and forth play, and continued to be largely defined by penalty calls. At 6:46 of the second, freshman Roberto Cellini went to the box for two minutes on account of tripping. Williams was able to create an odd man rush on the penalty kill, and George Hunkele saw an opportunity, finding classmate Tyler Young low in the slot. Young subsequently got one past Pulde at 8:02 of the second period, cashing in on a shorthanded goal, and his second goal of the season. Hunkele's assist marked his fifth point in as many games.
"We've been practicing our special teams quite a bit," said Kangas. "The boys have been very committed- tonight we saw a lot of shots blocked, getting in lanes, really putting the pressure on them and getting the puck out of the zone."
After two periods played, the Ephs had garnered a 2-0 lead, with the shot count after two being 26-25 in favor of the Ephs.
In the third period, the Jumbos came out battling, trying to put the pressure on in their offensive zone to narrow Williams' lead. However, the Ephs, led by Noah Klag in net, were able to retain their lead. At 16:01 of the third period, the Jumbos were given a big opportunity when Williams was called for too many men on the ice. Subsequently, Tufts also decided to pull Pulde from the net, to create a 6-4 opportunity for two minutes. Going into this power play, the Jumbos had been 0-6 on the man advantage in this contest. Williams was able to kill the penalty, however.
Pulde remained pulled essentially for the remainder of the game, but the Ephs held onto their lead despite spending the majority of the latter half of the period in their defensive zone. The game rounded out at 2-0 for Williams, with the shot count coming to 36-33 in favor of the Jumbos.
The Ephs remain undefeated in the NESCAC, with this victory their conference record moved to 3-0-0 (4-1-0 overall), while Tufts' conference record moved to 0-2-1 (1-3-2 overall).
Ephs' George Hunkele left the game with an injury in the second period, and did not return to the game.
Tufts hosts Middlebury tomorrow, with puck drop at 4:00 PM. Williams plays at Connecticut College tomorrow at 3:00 PM.