The 1998-99 men's ice hockey team made serious strides forward in its fourth year as a member of the ECAC East Division. Posting an overall record of 10-14-0, the Cardinals finished with their best-ever league mark, 5-12-0, and were four overtime games away from qualifying for the league playoffs. The ECAC East is recognized as the strongest Division III conference in the nation as three of the league's 18 teams qualified for the eight-team field in the NCAA Division III tournament, including four-time defending national champion Middlebury.
After going 6-17-1 overall and 4-13-2 in league competition during the 1997-98 season, Wesleyan improved dramatically both offensively and defensively over a year's time. Scoring 71 goals while allowing 111 in 1997-98, Wesleyan upped its goal production by 14 to 85 in 1998-99 while permitting 16 fewer goals (95), an overall improvement of 30 goals.
By far Wesleyan's top scoring group was the line of team captain Bryce Prosser '99, Steve Cucinatti '01 and Mark Bozek '02, teamed with defensemen Ross Dufresne '00 and Bob Gordon '02. These five accounted for 53 goals and 90 assists, better than 62 percent of the team's scoring. Among ECAC East players, Cucinatti and Prosser tied for seventh in overall scoring with 37 points each and were tied for ninth in league scoring with 25 apiece. Prosser was named to the East-West senior all-star game lineup. Dufresne, who was named honorable mention all-league, was tied for 19th in overall scoring with 28 points, but second among defensemen, both overall and in the league. He was tied for 15th overall in league scoring. Bozek was tied for 26th in overall scoring, but was the highest scoring freshman in the league overall with 27 points. His 15 league points tied him for second among frosh. Gordon was one of the top scoring frosh defenders with 18 points overall and 13 league points.
Wesleyan's power-play and penalty-killing also registered upward movement as the Cardinals finished third in power-play efficiency, connecting on 26.1 percent of its attempts. Wesleyan killed off 83.2 percent of the opponents' chances, ranking it seventh overall. Leading the way in this area was Cucinatti, who tied for third in overall power-play points with 18 and led the league in both power-play points (15) and goals (8). Dufresne was next highest on the team as he was tied for fifth both overall and in the league.
Minding the net for more than 83 percent of the possible minutes was Eric Carmody '00. A three-year starter, Carmody had his best season with a 3.84 goals-against average (down from 4.31 in 1997-98) and a 90.1 save percentage (up from 87.5 in 1997-98). He set a single-game team record for saves when he stopped 66 shots during the season finale at Hamilton.
Other standout individual performances were the four-goal output by Cucinatti in a 6-1 win at Mass. College, and a hat trick by Gordon, all on the power play, during a 7-3 setback against ECAC playoff semi-finalist Colby. Top team efforts came against NCAA qualifier and Little Three rival Amherst, as Wesleyan lost 3-2 in overtime, and against Little Three foe and ECAC tournament finalist Williams, as the Cardinals lost 4-2 on the road (one goal into an empty net) after leading 2-0 going into the final period. Wesleyan also posted two victories against ECAC tournament qualifiers, knocking off Salem St., 4-3, and downing Babson, 4-1. Wesleyan went 5-0 against non-ECAC East opponents.