The fifth-longest active unbeaten streak in Division III men’s college hockey belongs to Colby College, which is 5-0-2 in its last seven games.

Colby (5-2-2 overall), which hasn’t lost since its opening weekend in mid-November, is preparing for New England Small College Athletic Conference games over the next two weekends, including a big road test this weekend.

“I think there’s been a very good level of practices and that has translated into games,” said Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald, reiterating a common refrain during last season’s run to the NCAA Division III national semifinals. “We seem to be at a point where regardless of what the scoreboard might read or what drill we might be doing, our ability to compete at a high standard has been pretty consistent.”

Junior goaltender Andrew Tucci is showing glimpses of his standout freshman season after shaking off some early-season jitters. Tucci’s first career shutout in a win over Saint Anselm on Dec. 4 touched off a stretch of three straight shutouts for the Toronto native, culminating with back-to-back NESCAC road wins over Connecticut College and Tufts.

Tucci was named the league’s player of the week for Dec. 10 and earned a spot on the national team of the week for the same date. He made 83 saves across the three games.

“He’s been pretty lights-out all year, to be honest,” senior defenseman Thomas Stahlhuth said. “It gives guys a lot more confidence in front of him. Especially for our defensive corps, it’s a young crew, and it’s a lot better stepping on the ice when the goalie’s not letting in many shots.”

Tucci sits tied for second in the NESCAC in save percentage (.932) and third in goals against average (1.86), all while logging 70 more minutes (549:11) than his closest competitors.

Though the Mules boast one of the league’s stingiest defenses, the team’s offense has been very good over the last seven games. Senior center Nick O’Connor leads the NESCAC in both goals (9) and points (14), credited with four of the team’s five game-winning goals. Three Mules rank in the league’s top 11 in scoring, including freshman defenseman Michael Thomas, who leads all players with nine assists.

The Mules are winning in a variety of ways. Against Saint Anselm, the Mules received timely depth scoring from Zack Hale and superb netminding from Tucci. Against Connecticut College, an eight-goal outburst from seven different goal-scorers carried the Mules, and the next day it was closing out a 2-0 road win at Tufts.

“Everyone’s kind of stepped into roles where they are comfortable at this point,” Stahlhuth said. “We’ve got some freshmen, some sophomores, even some juniors who haven’t played a lot in the past, and everyone’s just gotten more comfortable with things. That’s been a big part of it.”

“It just takes time,” MacDonald said. “We had nine seniors last year that played a ton, and a freshman (Joe Schuler) that played a lot for us that didn’t come back. That doesn’t just trim players off your roster — it’s a rebuild.”

The new-look Mules will get a big test this weekend during an historically difficult road trip. The eight-hour bus ride takes them first to Hamilton College in upstate New York for Friday night’s game, followed by a three-plus hour drive back to Springfield, Massachusetts for a 3 p.m. puck drop against Amherst College.

The Continentals and Mammoths sit below Colby in the NESCAC, each with losing records, but the Mules should pay no mind to that. In MacDonald’s six prior seasons behind the Colby bench, the Mules have gone just 3-9-0 during the regular season on this particular trip and haven’t earned a single point in either building since the 2015-16 season. All three of the wins have been against Hamilton, though the Mules did win at Amherst in the NESCAC quarterfinals last February.

“They’re both very good teams. They both play well at home,” MacDonald said. “Ideally, it’s an opportunity for us to face another challenge. I’m excited to see how we handle that. I think we’ll do well. We’ll try and hang around and play well until last five minutes, and then we’ll see what happens from there.”

Colby returns home Jan. 11 to face four-time NESCAC champion Trinity College, followed by a Jan. 12 matinée against Wesleyan. Wesleyan and Trinity currently sit first and third in the league, respectively.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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