NESCAC Champions! Men’s Hockey Defeats Williams, Advances to NCAAs
Issue   |   Tue, 03/10/2015 - 22:25
Rob Mattson
First-year David White was crucial to both NESCAC wins, adding an assist in Saturday’s contest. He was honored as the NESCAC rookie of the year.

The men’s ice hockey dispatched archrival Williams to win the NESCAC championship this past weekend in Orr Rink.
To advance to the final, Amherst played the No. 8 seed Tufts on Saturday afternoon in the NESCAC semifinals. The Jumbos were looking for their second upset in as many weeks after knocking off No. 1 seed Trinity in their last game, but their efforts came to no avail.

Amherst came out strong in the first period and kept Tufts on the ropes all game. Five minutes in, seniors Mike Rowbotham and Aaron Deutsch used their four years of chemistry to beat Tufts goaltender Mason Pulde and take a 1-0 lead. Tufts tied the game up 10 minutes later, just before the end of the period, after a solid offensive possession. Despite 12 shots in the first, the Jeffs were unable to break the tie before the end of the frame.

The second period was when the purple and white really took off. With just nine shots in the period, Amherst extended the lead by two goals. Andrew Fenwick ’15 scored off of assists from Deutsch and Patrick Arena ’16. Six minutes later Conor Brown ’16 scored his 11th goal of the year from a pass from first-year David White. Amherst killed off two power plays in the period, and Danny Vitale ’15 made seven more saves to send the Jeffs into the third period with a two-goal lead.

Halfway through the third the Jumbos showed some life, as they slipped the puck by Vitale to close the gap down to one. But once more the Amherst defense showed that they are championship caliber, and they held Tufts scoreless for the remaining 10 minutes, sealing their spot in the finals. Vitale finished with 27 saves, 15 of which came in the third period.

Sunday afternoon provided a championship game to remember. The game was physical throughout, and both sides had a number of excellent scoring opportunities. The Jeffs killed one penalty in the first, and neither team could find the back of the net. The second period was equally competitive, and both teams spent the whole frame in five on five play. Both netminders had 12 saves in the period, and the game looked like it was surely overtime bound, despite the fact that only two periods had been played.

The third period was marked by a game-changing play early on. Fenwick got the puck from Austin Ho ’17 and beat Williams goalie Sean Dougherty just three minutes into the period to give Amherst the one-goal edge, and it proved to be enough. The buzzer rang, and the crowd cheered as they beheld the top men’s ice hockey team in the NESCAC.

With the victory, the team qualified for the NCAA tournament and also received a first round bye in the process. The Jeffs will take on the winner of the Norwich University and Plymouth state game being held on Saturday, March 21, at a location to be announced. In addition to the NESCAC championship, four Jeffs were named to the all-conference team. Senior captains Jake Turrin and White were selected to the first team, while Rowbotham and Deutsch were named the second team. White was also honored with the rookie of the year award, while Coach Jack Arena took home another coach of the year award after his 32nd season at the helm of the men’s ice hockey program.

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