WATERVILLE — Andrew Tucci picked the perfect time to post his first career shutout.

Tucci, a junior, made 33 saves Tuesday night as the Colby College men’s hockey team beat non-conference foe Saint Anselm College 2-0 at Alfond Rink. It was the Mules’ first home win of the season and extended the team’s current unbeaten streak to four straight games.

“I felt light out there,” Tucci said. “Maybe it was the whole having to go through school (on a Tuesday) thing, and I was doing a lot of homework. Maybe it was taking my mind off of it or something, I don’t know. I just felt good out there.”

The season got off to an uneven start for the Toronto goalie, who was supplanted as the team’s No. 1 midway through his freshman year when Sean Lawrence joined the program. He looked nervy at times in losses to both Middlebury and Williams on opening weekend Nov. 16-17, but since those defeats Tucci has shown signs of improvement.

Not only is he stopping pucks, but his rebound control has been good and his decisions playing the puck around his crease area have been much better than they were early on.

A lot of it just comes with regular work, Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said.

“I think that’s a natural progresson for him,” MacDonald said. “He just hasn’t played that much in the first two years, consistently, and now he’s starting to play some more games. Your ability to track pucks, your ability to read plays at game speed increases.

“For my money, your goaltender needs to be your most intelligent player on the ice and one of your best athletes, and we expect that out of him.”

Tucci’s shutout came just three days after he made only 16 saves in a 3-3 tie against Bowdoin on Saturday, though he couldn’t be faulted on any of the goals againt the Polar Bears. It lowered his goals against average to 2.27 through six games and raised his save percentage over .900 for the first time this season at .919.

Moreover, his play has given an inexperenced team plenty of confidence.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” Tucci said. “All the guys are really pumped. We’ve been seeing a lot of progress, so it’s nice to finally get a win at home.”

• • •

Speaking of timely performances for Colby, none was more timely than senior winger Zack Hale’s game-winning goal against the Hawks.

It was only the second career goal for the Minneapolis native, and it snapped a scoreless tie just over 10 minutes into the third period.

After the Mules (2-2-2) outplayed Bowdoin but settled for a tie, they were in danger of doing something similar against Saint Anselm before Hale struck.

“Hockey is one of those games where you can be the better team all night, but you might not get the result you want,” said Hale, who has played 67 career games with two goals and six points. “Like our coach has been harping all year, we’re process driven and outcome aware. All we can do is focus on the process, shooting pucks and outworking their (defense). Sometimes the outcome isn’t there but as long as the process is there I think, in time, the outcome will be the way you want it.”

Hale began the season on the team’s fourth line but was promoted to the third line by the time the puck dropped on the third game of the year.

Against Saint Anselm, Hale made a rare appearance among the Mules’ top six forwards, skating alongside Spencer Hewson and J.P. Schuhlen.

Even playing wth skilled forwards, the 6-foot, 175-pound Hale insisted that he was sticking to his own game — a heavy, selfless style that blocks more opposing shots than produces ones of his own at the other end of the building.

“Those guys are both very offensively skilled players, but I’m just trying to get into the corners and get pucks out for them and get to high-traffic areas,” Hale said. “Anytime you’re playing with guys like that, you just try to get pucks to the net.”

• • •

NOTES: Colby has a two-game road trip this weekend to face New England Small College Athletic Conference foes Connecticut College and Tufts. Along with the Mules, the three teams are a combined 1-8-2 in NESCAC play this season. … Nick O’Connor leads Colby in scoring with 4-3-7 totals. … Colby will be off until Dec. 31 following Saturday’s game against Tufts. … After a win and a tie on the road against Vermont last weekend, the University of Maine men’s hockey team sits sixth in Hockey East. The Black Bears play an exhibition game this weekend against the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan to wrap up their first semester. … The Colby women beat the University of New England 2-1 Tuesday night to kick off a stretch of three non-conference road games in five days this week. The Mules wrap up their first semester with games at Nichols and Becker. … The Thomas College club hockey team is 5-1-0 this season with games against Central Maine Community College (Saturday) and Springfield College (Sunday) this weekend to wrap up their semester work. Senior Alex Berard of Winslow leads the Terriers with eight goals and is tied for the team scoring lead with 10 points.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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