WATERVILLE — You don’t have to remind the Mules of their January struggles.

“Every single guy on our team knows that January has not been good to us, even before I got here,” said Colby College sophomore forward Spencer Hewson, after his team skated to a 0-0 tie with New England Small College Athletic Conference leader Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon at Alfond Rink. “We try to do different things. This year, we’ve tried to change things up. We’re well aware of it, but it’s one of those things where it’s just happening. I don’t think it’s just because the calendar says January.”

The Mules got the fourth shutout of the season from junior netminder Andrew Tucci courtesy of his 25 saves, but in turn Colby (5-5-3 overall, 2-5-2 NESCAC) was held without a goal for the first time this winter as the team’s winless stretch reached a fourth consecutive game to begin the month.

Colby lost six of its first seven games in January last winter, having won only once in its first five games of January 2017.

“I don’t think it’s one thing,” Hewson said of Colby’s recent struggles. “I think you can look back over our last few games, and every game it’s a different thing — but it’s always one thing that’s missing. That’s why we’re not getting the wins.”

Wesleyan (7-3-2, 6-0-2 NESCAC) remained unbeaten in league play as the Cardinals extended their current unbeaten streak to five games. Junior goalie Tim Sestak made 20 saves to earn the visitors the point — and a three-point weekend after a 5-0 win over Bowdoin on Friday night.

“Both teams really deserved a win,” Wesleyan head coach Chris Potter said. “Nobody was really giving anyone an inch. (Colby) does a nice job of packing it into that house area and not giving you a whole lot. They do a lot of little things to win games.”

The Cardinals could have had a lead in the first period were it not for the play of Tucci, who was sharp from the get-go. He made 10 saves in the opening 20 minutes, including several point-blank Wesleyan opportunities and none better than the pair of stops he made on Tyler Levine and Hunter Vannier 40 seconds apart midway through.

Colby got the better of the chances as the game aged, particularly late in the second period and throughout the third. Freshman Logan Clarke, who had Colby’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to Trinity on Friday, whistled a shot wide of the goal at the 13-minute mark of the second off a clean look from the left circle. Kienan Scott couldn’t get off a strong enough shot on a partial breakaway in overtime that might have ended it earlier.

“It’s a frustrating tie, for sure,” Colby defenseman Thomas Stahlhuth said. “We played our tails off and we had chances. You never want to have it come down to a tie. A point’s a point, which is good, but we’re at the halfway mark of the season and we really need to start gaining these back.”

But the real backbreaker for the Mules was the team’s power play, which is mired in a 2 for 18 stretch over its last six games. Colby had two chances with the man advantage in the third period against the Cardinals but came up empty on both.

“Some of our better players need to play like that, need to define their opportunities,” Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. “Our power play at some critical times couldn’t define the game. We actually took momentum away from ourselves.”

The Mules’ top trio of Nick O’Connor, Justin Grillo and Clarke continues to provide energy and scoring chances, but there’s not enough of the same in the groups behind them. Hewson and J.P. Schuhlen have been good in spurts, while Scott — last season’s leading scorer for Colby — spent Saturday auditioning with a few different linemates as he still searches for his first goal of the season.

“O’Connor’s one of the best players in the country, in my opinion,” Hewson said. “He’s putting up a lot of points on a very defensive-minded team. Our second and third lines aren’t going to match that production, but we definitely do want to be chipping in.”

“To beat a first-place team that’s undefeated in our league, we need everybody going,” MacDonald said. “We probably had two or three guys that just struggled tonight.

“I just am dumbfounded at how we want to complicate the game. (We’re) a young team that’s just evolving a little bit.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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