The men’s hockey team has skated out to a strong start this season, compiling a 3-1-0 record over its first four games.
The Jeffs began this year’s winter campaign with a 2-0 victory over Hamilton two weekends ago, then sustained that momentum by thrashing Westfield State 8-1 the following Tuesday. This past weekend, Amherst competed in the Cape Cod Lighthouse Invitational (hosted by Babson). The Jeffs defeated Salem State 5-1 before suffering their first loss of the year to Hobart, falling 3-1 in the tournament finals.
Head coach John Arenas said he was pleased with the team’s performance. “We’ve played well defensively in all four games, which has been our strength in recent years,” he said. “We’ve also shown good speed and quickness, which has helped us generate offensive chances.” Over their first four contests, the Jeffs have netted 4.00 goals a game while conceding an average of 1.25 goals per game.
The Jeffs opened their season with a tough matchup against Hamilton on home ice. Amherst dominated the Continentals in the latter stages of Friday’s contest en route to a 2-0 victory. The game started as a defensive battle, with both teams registering six shots in a scoreless first period. The contest remained deadlocked at 0-0 through the second period, although the Jeffs out-shot Hamilton 17-12 in the middle frame.
Amherst controlled the tempo of the game in the third period, outshooting Hamilton by a hefty 22-4 margin. The Jeffs finally broke the deadlock with just 6:50 to play. Brian Safstrom ’14 found junior defensemen Brandon Hew’s loose rebound before sliding the puck under the pads of the besieged Continental goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
The Jeffs added an insurance goal with 2:11 on the clock. Eddie Effinger ’12 had a give-and-go passing exchange with Erik Hansen ’14 before slotting the puck into the net.
Goaltender Jonathan La Rose ’12 recorded 22 saves in the shutout performance, improving his career record to 21-3-1. La Rose and Nathan Corey ’13 — the steady, reliable backup last season — are currently in a timeshare at the goaltending position. “Both goaltenders have played well and we’ll continue using the goalie we feel gives us the best chance to win,” Arenas said.
The Jeffs then routed Westfield State 8-1 in a non-conference game last Tuesday. After trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Jeffs exploded with five goals in the middle frame en route to a comfortable victory. Johnny Van Siclen ’13 scored a hat trick and Dylan Trumble ’13 tallied two goals, while senior Mark Colp (one goal, three assists) and junior Mike Moher (one goal and one assist) also had productive days.
The following weekend, the Jeffs traveled to Cape Cod for a tournament. In the first round, the Jeffs manhandled Salem State 5-1, scoring three goals in the first period to take control of the game. With Amherst leading 3-1 at the start of the second period, the game deteriorated into a physical, chippy affair. After Andrew Kurlandski ’14 netted his second goal of the contest to push the lead to 4-1 with 5:01 remaining in the middle frame, a series of rough scuffles occurred near the end of the period. Four game misconducts were administered in the final five minutes of the second period. Overall, Amherst and Salem State each committed 15 penalties for 46 minutes over the course of the 60-minute game. Safstrom added a goal at the 12:54 mark of the third period to ice a 5-1 result.
The Jeffs endured their first loss in the subsequent championship game, however, falling to Hobart 3-1 the next day. The Statesmen stunned Amherst by scoring just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff to gain a quick 1-0 lead.
After getting out-shot 10-5 in the first 20 minutes, the Jeffs tied the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal by Van Siclen at the 5:31 mark of the second period.Two consecutive minor penalties stunted the Jeffs’ momentum, however and Hobart regained the lead with a goal with 3:37 remaining before the intermission.
Hobart added a crucial insurance goal midway through the third period to take a 3-1 lead, while the Jeffs struggled to get pucks past Hobart goaltender Martin Ausserhofer, who finished with 24 saves and earned tournament MVP honors. Amherst’s Corey stopped 28 of 31 shots in a solid performance.
“Against Hobart, we didn’t have our normal jump and couldn’t put pressure on them,” Arenas said. “They played a strong defensive game and limited our chances.” The Jeffs get back to action with a NESCAC doubleheader against Wesleyan and Trinity on home ice this weekend.