Women’s Hockey Ready For NESCACs
Issue   |   Tue, 02/19/2013 - 23:09

The Amherst women’s hockey team earned the third seed in the upcoming NESCAC playoffs after suffering two tough losses to No. 7 Bowdoin last weekend, with the Polar Bears clinching the second seed in the conference tournament. The Lord Jeffs fell short on Saturday, 4-0, before dropping a 3-1 decision on Sunday in the final game of the regular season. No. 10 Amherst finished at 10-5-1 in league play (12-10-1 overall), after a five-game conference win streak brought them back from .500 in late January.

The double-header started out slow on Saturday night as the Jeffs struggled offensively in the first period, tallying just two shots on net. The Polar Bears only managed six, however, and Amherst goalie Kerri Stuart ’14 stopped them all to keep the first frame scoreless.

Chelsea MacNeil broke the deadlock just six minutes into the second on a power play to put Bowdoin ahead, 1-0. The Polar Bears struck again 25 seconds later, as a slap shot from senior Kayte Holtz beat Stuart top-shelf for the two-goal advantage. Amherst stepped up its offense in the second frame with 10 shots, but a strong performance from the Bowdoin goalie preserved the Polar Bear shutout.

Bowdoin extended its lead early in the third as first-year Rachel Kennedy tallied her team-leading 13th goal of the season on a shot from teammate Kenzie Novak. The senior then notched one of her own with four minutes remaining, collecting a pass and beating her defender one-on-one to secure the 4-0 win for Bowdoin.

Sunday marked Senior Day for the Lord Jeffs as they honored Class of 2013 members Megan Doyen, Geneva Lloyd and Kaitlyn McInnis, who enter their final postseason with a 75-26-8 career record, two NCAA tournament appearances and both the NESCAC and National title in 2010. A strong effort from Amherst in their last home game of the regular season fell just short as Bowdoin swept the weekend with a 3-1 victory.

The Polar Bears came out strong in the first period, striking on their first power play just three minutes into the game. After carrying the puck around the back of the Amherst net, Holtz ripped a wrist shot from the right circle to beat Stuart in the lower left corner for a one-goal lead. Bowdoin cushioned their advantage with a goal from Ariana Borque ’16 halfway through the frame after a scrum in front of the net.

Tori Salmon ’15 had Amherst’s best chance of the period in a one-on-one with Bowdoin goalie Kayla Lessard ’13, but the senior made an impressive save to keep the Jeffs off the board. Kennedy added her second of the weekend just six minutes later on a breakaway to put the Polar Bears up, 3-0.

Lessard continued her strong performance in the second period, stopping several tough shots from Lloyd and Doyen on the Amherst power play. Emily Flom ’15 finally found the equalizer for the Jeffs with just nine seconds left in the period to bring the home team within two. Erin Martin ’16 sent a pass to Barrett McBride ’14, whose hard wrist shot from the circle was deflected right to Flom for a rebound finish.

Amherst kept up the pressure in the third on a strong power play effort, but Lessard stepped up to the challenge, making six stops during the penalty kill. Bowdoin finished with the 3-1 victory, earning the coveted second seed in the NESCAC playoffs next weekend.

First-year Kasia Henley saw time in net for Amherst during the last two periods and managed 12 saves, while Stuart stopped seven attempts in the first frame. Amherst finished with a 37-22 shot advantage, but a strong showing from Lessard and the Bowdoin defense shut down all seven of the Jeffs’ power play efforts.

Amherst will host sixth-seeded Hamilton at home on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament.