MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The Wesleyan men's hockey team will take on Amherst on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. NESCAC Semifinal matchup on the campus of Trinity College. The Cardinals earned the second seed in the tournament, finishing the regular season with a 15-7-2 overall record and a 13-3-2 NESCAC mark. The Mammoths are seeded third and finished 13-6-4 overall (9-4-4 NESCAC). Earlier this year, the team's battled to a 1-1 overtime draw on November 30th, before Wesleyan edged Amherst 1-0 on January 25th. The win was the first for either team since December 2, 2016, as the teams tied each other in the previous four meetings. Trinity earned the top-seed in the tournament and will host the Semifinal and Championship contests, as they take on fourth-seed Hamilton following the Wesleyan contest at 4:30 p.m.
This is Wesleyan's third-straight Semifinal appearance in the conference tournament and 12th overall, as the Cardinals earned the highest seed in program history. Wesleyan is in pursuit of its first-ever championship title, as it looks to make it to the championship game for the first time. Amherst is making its first Semifinal appearance since 2016 when they fell in the Championship game. The Mammoths have made it to the title game six times, taking home the crown in three of those contests (2015, 2012 & 2009).
CARDINALS AT A GLANCE:
- The Cardinals have had their best season in program history, as the team broke the NESCAC record for longest unbeaten streak (13-0-2) and have tallied a program-best 16 wins. The team also grabbed national attention, being ranked as high as No. 10 for a number of weeks before falling to then-No. 11 Trinity.
- Wesleyan has been led by 2019 NESCAC Player of the Year Tim Sestak. Sestak has been phenomenal in goal for the Cardinals, leading the conference in save percentage (.946), while ranking second in goals against average (1.65). Sestak was tabbed NESCAC Player of the Week three times over a four-week span, and currently ranks third in DII/DIII in save percentage and shutouts (seven).
- On the offensive side, Wesleyan is guided by Walker Harris, who added All-NESCAC First Team laurels to his list of accolades this week. He leads the conference in points (31), goals (19), game-winning goals (five), and is second on the team in assists (12).
- Captain Chad Malinowski has been an anchor for the Cardinals, earning a spot on the All-NESCAC Second Team this week. Malinowski has three goals and 11 assists, as Wesleyan is ranked seventh nationally in team defense, allowing 1.88 goals per game.
- The Cardinals have a lot of depth this year, with five other players (Espinoza, Fox, Levine, Lima and Wyatt) recording 11 or more assists.
MAMMOTHS AT A GLANCE:
- Amherst is riding an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2), most recently shutting out Colby 5-0 to advance to the semifinals.
- Mammoth duo Joey Lupo and Phil Johansson both earned spots on the All-NESCAC First Team this year, as Lupo leads the team in points (24) and goals (11), while Johansson has tallied eight points on the power-play (3-5-8). He also leads all defensemen in scoring with 20 points (6-14-20).
- In between the pipes, Michael Cullen (8-3-1) and Giancarlo Ventre (6-3-3) have each started 12 contests to split minutes for the Mammoths. Cullen, who recorded his second shutout of the year during Amherst's quarterfinal game, boasts a .924 save percentage and a 1.75 goals against average.
- "This team has worked really hard to get back into the NESCAC Semifinals. This time of year, you have to play hard, be disciplined, and execute. We look forward to the opportunity to take another step forward."
<< CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL >>
Semifinals - Saturday, March 2 at No. 1 Trinity
No. 3 Amherst vs. No. 2 Wesleyan – 1:00 p.m.
No. 4 Hamilton vs. No. 1 Trinity – 4:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 3 at Trinity
Semifinals winners – 2:00 p.m.