GENEVA, N.Y.—The Hobart College hockey team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back as it knocked off Babson College 5-1 to claim the 2023 New England Hockey Conference tournament title. It is the second NEHC conference crown for the Statesmen and the first since winning back in 2018, their first season in the league.
With the win, Hobart (26-2-0) earned the NEHC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The entire tournament field will be released on Monday, March 6 with the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Selection Show on NCAA.com at 10 a.m.
Junior Jonah Alexander led the way for Hobart with three points on a goal and two assists. His linemates sophomore Luke Aquaro (2g) and sophomore Shane Shell (2a) also had multi-point games for the Statesmen. First-year Damon Beaver made 14 saves as he recorded his 15th victory of the season.
Nolan Hildebrand made 37 saves in just under 60 minutes of work for Babson (17-9-2).
- Hobart finished the contest with a 42-15 edge in shots on goal.
- Neither team scored a power-play goal, but the Statesmen did pick up a shorthanded tally.
- Hobart opened the scoring at the 2:36 mark of the first period when Alexander pocketed his 15th goal of the season. He intercepted a Babson breakout pass and wristed a shot into the upper left corner of the cage.
- Ten minutes later, Aquaro extended Hobart’s lead to two goals. His 18th goal of the season was assisted by Alexander and Shell. After his initial shot went wide, Aquaro snapped a shot from the right faceoff circle into the back of the net.
- First-year Tanner Daniels gave Hobart a 3-0 lead headed into the first intermission. He picked up a rebound and flipped a shot past Hildebrand for his ninth goal of the season. Matthieu Wuth and Artem Buzoverya were awarded assists on the strike.
- Babson ended the shutout bid at the 13:13 mark of the second period when Brendan Kennedy scored his eighth goal of the season. He forced a turnover below the goal line and had his initial shot turned aside by Beaver, but his rebound attempt found the back of the net.
- Graduate Student Zach Tyson put the game out of reach with his 11th goal of the season just over a minute into the third period. He picked the pocket of a Babson defender and rifled a shot from the slot past Hildebrand. It was an unassisted shorthanded goal.
- Aquaro rounded out the scoring with an empty net goal at the 14:38 mark of the final period. Alexander and Shell collected assists on the goal.
- Graduate Student Zach Tyson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
- He was joined on the all-tournament team by Luke Aquaro, Tanner Daniels, Damon Beaver and Matthieu Wuth. Brendan Kennedy represented Babson on the all-tournament team.
“Some nights you know and tonight I knew when I first stepped on the bench,” Head Coach Mark Taylor said. “I looked across the ice and saw the awesome crowd, but inside that Professor Halfman standing where he has been standing my entire career. I then saw a student in front of him in a short sleeve shirt having a blast. I knew then it was going to be a good night. Seriously, it’s not the trophy, it’s the atmosphere and the moments for not just my players but everyone. You take mental snap shots of it all, my town friends, the Lynch’s, the Feinberg’s, Fitzgerald’s, Penrod’s, etc., the loyal old timers in The Cooler hats, and I could name a hundred others. Then to have President Gearan on the ice handing out the trophy, it was all just right. The boys played it, but everyone in the cooler tonight had a piece of that victory, more than they think. I thank them all!”
(Hobart College Hockey Photo)