The College of New Jersey men’s hockey team won its third straight game on Friday night against an atypical opponent. The 5-2 win over the University of Oregon Ducks at Tsai Field House was the first time TCNJ had ever played the west coast school. It marked a huge jump for both the program and, possibly, the 2023/24 season overall.

The team’s two previous wins were against fellow Northeast Collegiate Hockey League (NECHL) members Oswego State University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

It’s been a sharp increase for the team’s production. Over the first 13 games of the season TCNJ had scored 17 goals. In its last three the team has put up 20. Bayonne, NJ native Jake Barrera has scored five goals in the last three games including a hat-trick against Oswego. Logan May scored his first of the season against Oswego and picked up his fourth on a power play against Oregon.

Against Oregon, the Lions only needed 18 shots to score its five goals. The Ducks, like TCNJ, joined Division 1 of the ACHA last season. Oregon’s larger size was countered with the Lions speed, something it’s been more keen to use in recent games.

In the net, Mike Bussanich has been stellar. In the last three games, his .930 save percentage has been crucial in the team’s turnaround. That was on display on Friday as the Oregon Ducks unleashed 52 shots against the Westwood, NJ native.

TCNJ still has three games left in 2023 before the winter break. It will visit Rutgers University on Friday, December 1st in an NECHL clash. On Saturday, December 2nd the team will host Villanova University at the Lawrenceville School.

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Michael Battista