WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Tufts Jumbos (10-9-6, 6-8-5 NESCAC) eliminated the Williams Ephs (18-5-2, 14-3-2 NESCAC) 2-1 this afternoon at the Lansing Chapman Rink in the first round of the conference playoffs. The Ephs got the first goal of the game early in the second period, but the Jumbos subsequently scored two unanswered goals to advance to the semi-final round.
In net for the Jumbos this afternoon was junior netminder Mason Pulde. Pulde had a .945 save percentage on the season. Tending the opposite goal for the Ephs was freshman Michael Pinios. Pinios finished the regular season with a .942 save percentage, and a .833 win percentage.
"There is not much to say. It is unfortunate," said Williams head coach Bill Kangas. "They played very, very well. They had the two good bounces in the second, they were able to capitalize. We had moments, but I give them a lot of credit."
The Jumbos finished the regular season with an overall record of 9-9-6, with a NESCAC record of 5-8-5. The Ephs came into the playoffs with an overall record of 18-4-2, with a conference record of 14-2-2, earning Williams the number one seed headed into this postseason.
Williams shut out the Jumbos both times the two teams faced one another this season. The first match up took place in early December, the Ephs taking a 2-0 victory on the road. The second times these two teams met was in late January, where Williams claimed a decisive 4-0 win.
After the first period, the Ephs led in shot count 11-4.
Williams got off to a quick start in the second period, earning themselves a one goal lead at 1:00. Immediately following a faceoff in the lower right circle, freshman Michael Lata (first assist) was able to get the puck to the slot, for sophomore C.J. Shugart (sixth goal) to finish off and snipe one past Pulde, bringing the game to 1-0.
At 11:48, the Jumbos tied the game at one, after a shot from the right point by junior Sean Kavanagh hit a body in front of the net and went bouncing by Pinios. This was Kavanagh's third goal of the season, bringing the game to 1-1.
"It's hard to take, it is one game and one shot ultimately that determines things. It is unfortunate, but we have played well all year," commented Kangas. The only blemish we had at home in the league had been our last tie, so to lose at home in a playoff environment, in a one and done situation is pretty tough."
Tufts scored their second consecutive goal just a little more than a minute later, to take the lead in the game at 12:53 of the second. Junior Mike Leary was able to skate past the Williams defensive unit to fire one off from the slot. Pinios made a pad save that rebounded right to the stick of senior Keith Campbell, who was able to shoot one past as Pinios was still down. This was Campbell's first goal of the season. Leary (fourth assist) and junior Patrick Lackey (third assist) were awarded assists on the play.
After two periods of play, the Ephs led in shots 22-15 (shots in the second rounding out at 11-11).
"I feel bad for the kids, we have put so much into it, we train all year to get better throughout the season for opportunities and moments like this," noted Kangas. "I thought we played just an okay game, we have played better. But I give Tufts credit, too, because they played well, so it was a combination of both. We'll see what this does, but this is a tough loss, tough to talk about."
The Ephs put on the pressure in the third period, much of the last twenty minutes took place in their offensive zone. Michael Pinios was pulled to get the extra man with one minute remaining in the contest, however the Jumbo defensive unit was able to stifle any opportunities presented to the Ephs.
The shot count finished in the Ephs' favor 37-23. Michael Pinios made 21 saves, while Mason Pulde made 36.
The game ended with a score of 2-1, the Jumbos defeating and eliminating the number one seeded Williams squad. For the second year in a row, the number eight seeded Jumbos upset the number one seed in the first round of the conference playoffs.
"There are lots of things to reflect on. I mainly feel for the boys, because I know what they do to get here, what they had to do to get to this point. For us, our goal was to win the conference championship," noted Kangas. "We have been close, three out of the past five years we have been in the finals, and top four the other two years. For us to get the first seed was a bonus, but our goal was the championship, so to not even get that chance now is tough. We've worked so hard to get the opportunity to play at home, and that is hard to take."
The Ephs still have an opportunity to get an at large national bid. That possibility is yet to be determined.
Trinity will host Tufts for the next round of the playoffs.