Women's Hockey Goes Unbeaten Against Trinity
Issue   |   Tue, 02/18/2014 - 22:21
Photo Courtesy of Rob Mattson
Sara Culhane '17 slides the puck past the Trinity goaltender to score the first goal of the game on Saturday just two minutes into the first period. The first-year has seven goals on the season.

The Amherst women’s hockey team capped off its final home series of the regular season with a 3-1 win and a 2-2 tie against Trinity College. The weekend’s results improved the 10th-ranked Jeffs to an overall record of 12-5-5. They are now 8-2-4 in the NESCAC, which is good enough for second place behind Midd.

Valentine’s Day this year marked the team’s second annual “Pink in the Rink” event. The team sported pink on their jerseys to show their support for breast cancer awareness. Thanks to the hard work of the team, the coaching staff and parents, over $2,000 was raised through donations and fundraisers including a bake sale for breast cancer research. The proceeds will go to Cancer Connection, a save haven for cancer patients, their families and their caregivers located in Northampton.

The atmosphere at Orr Rink on Friday was also enhanced by the numerous professors who attended the game in honor of a faculty appreciation night. Family, friends and faculty all contributed to a night that supported a great cause, and the fan base saw much success on the ice for the Jeffs.

Despite an quick goal by Trinity just 2:25 into the starting period, Yuna Evans ’17 made some key stops during the rest of the first period to keep the Jeffs only one score behind.

“We started a little slow on Friday, but quickly improved as the game went on. We picked up the intensity to bounce back from a 1-0 deficit,” said senior co-captain Courtney Baranek.

At the start of the second period, Tori Salmon ’15, buried the puck after a scramble in front of the net. A few minutes later, Baranek pounced on a Salmon rebound to lift the Jeffs to a 2-1 lead, and the Bantams were unable to recover.

After several close chances in the third period, Trinity looked to even the score by pulling their goaltender with 1:04 remaining with hopes that the extra player would facilitate some additional offense. Instead, Salmon capitalized on the open net for her second tally of the game. The game ended in a 3-1 victory thanks to Evans’s 31 saves between the posts.

When the Jeffs and Bantams returned to the ice Saturday night for their second game of the home series, the Amherst seniors were commemorated as it was their last home game of the regular season. The senior class of Amherst women’s hockey includes five members, led by their co-captains, Baranek and Hayley Opperman. Thus far, forward Baranek has 15 career goals and 20 career assists, including four and eight on the season, respectively. As a defender, Opperman has been superb at turning defense into offense with 22 career assists and seven on the season.

Fellow seniors, Kerri Stuart, Avery Stone and Bear McBride, also have all made important contributions for the Jeffs during their four years here. In goal, Stuart has 90.2 save percentage on the season and has recorded 293 saves. Stone has helped anchor the strong defensive effort the team has established this season. On the offensive end, McBride has 11 career goals and 24 career assists. Thanks to the leadership, talent and experience of the senior class, the relatively young team has had an incredibly successful regular season that they hope will carry over into the postseason.

“The seniors have taught a team made up of eight freshmen and three sophomores how to play like veterans. Their confidence on the ice is contagious. Our team plays with poise, and we play with the attitude that we belong on the ice with every team in Div. III,” Erin Martin ’16 said. “The seniors have taught us humility in that we need to take every opponent as a threat and we need to play our best to win games no matter the opponent. Their presence on and off the ice has brought the team closer together and helped us build a successful season so far.”

After the senior class was recognized, the second game of the weekend commenced. The Jeffs were the team to quickly get on the board this time. 2:02 into the start of the first period, as Sara Culhane ’17 dove to put away a loose puck in front of the Bantams’ net.

Trinity, however, was fast to retaliate. Minutes later the score was evened after another scramble in front found its way past Stuart. Shortly after, Trinity quickly took advantage of a power play opportunity. Following a Stuart save, a rebound broke through, and the Jeffs fell behind 2-1 just five minutes into the game.

Despite a 5-on-3 power play opportunity in the second period, the Jeffs were unable to find the back of the net, and Amherst continued to trail 2-1 at the start of the third period. When the Jeffs were granted another power play during the third frame, they did not let it go to waste and capitalized on the opportunity. Martin buried a rebound for which Salmon and McBride were accredited with the assist.

At the close of the third period, some clever stick work by Salmon amounted to a close chance for the Jeffs, but the Trinity netminder, Alexa Pujol, came up with several strong saves to preserve the tie. After making nine saves in overtime, Pujol concluded the game with 36 saves, while Stuart had 19 stops for the Jeffs. In spite of carrying the momentum at the end of game, Amherst could not pull out the win.

The Jeffs return to action this Friday, Feb. 21 in Maine for their final series of the regular season against Bowdoin.

“We can compete with any Div. III team in the country when our whole team gets going, so we are looking forward to the last couple games of the season and carrying over all the positives to playoffs,” Baraneck said.

“I think our special teams play will be a deciding factor in how well we do throughout the upcoming tournaments,” Martin added. “Our team’s success starts with our defense, so if we can perfect our defensive play and special teams I am confident our team can do something special this year [because] our seniors deserve nothing less than a championship.”