WATERVILLE, Maine — Nick O’Connor scored with 1:43 left in the game to help the 14th-ranked Colby College men’s hockey team clinch the second seed in the upcoming league playoffs and take a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Tufts University on Saturday at Alfond Rink.
The Mules will host a NESCAC quarterfinal game next Saturday at 3 p.m. against either Wesleyan University or Tufts. Trinity College and Wesleyan are playing a night game Saturday which will determine the final seeds.
Colby finished the regular season unbeaten in conference games at 8-0-1. The Mules moved to 13-6-4 overall and 11-4-3 in the league, while Tufts is 11-10-3 and 9-8-1 in the NESCAC. Colby’s eight seniors were honored before the contest.
Trailing 2-1 coming into the third period, Colby had 19 shots on goal and finally tied the game at 13:55 on a score by Michael Rudolf. Devin Albert, with defensemen converging on him at the blue line, flicked the puck to the left of the Tufts goal to Phil Klitirinos, who immediately found Rudolf streaking to the net for a one-timer.
Colby’s game-winning score was one of prettiest goals of the year. Jack Burton had a shot blocked and quickly gathered the puck again. Burton pushed a quick pass to Klitirinos on the left side and he immediately centered the puck to O’Connor in front for another one-timer score.
Tufts had a 15-5 shot advantage in the opening period, but Colby goaltender Sean Lawrence made 15 of his 31 saves to keep it scoreless.
Entering the second period on the power play, Colby struck first when Rudolf scored off assists from Geoff Sullivan and Albert. Rudolf tipped a shot that Tufts goalie Nik Nugnes stopped, but Rudolf was right there to smack in the rebound.
Tufts tied the game just 1:32 later on a power play goal. Anthony Farinacci stuffed in a rebound for the score off assists from Tyler Scroggins and Cooper Stahl.
The Jumbos went up 2-1 at 5:15 of the second period when Jordan Haney pushed a pass over to Machlan Sawden on the right side near the face-off dot for the shot.
Nugnes made 29 saves over the final two periods for the Jumbos.