Men’s Hockey Secures Sixth Seed in NESCAC Tournament
Issue   |   Wed, 02/24/2016 - 00:37

The Amherst men’s ice hockey team encountered two NESCAC rivals on the road this weekend. Williams and Middlebury proved to be tough competition for the purple and white, who went 0-2 with only a single goal between the two games.

Up against Williams, the top-ranked team in the NESCAC, Amherst faced a tough challenge on Friday. While the 0-2 result was not ideal, the purple and white made the talented Ephs work for the win, nearly matching them in shots with a 35-32 tally and keeping the game close throughout. In addition, each team went 0/3 on power plays.

Even though there were a total of 23 shots between the two teams in the first period, neither was able to break through and record a score. Almost halfway through the second period, Williams’ Joe Welch broke through the Amherst defense. The assist on this game-winning goal came from Colby Cretella.
Williams widened the lead halfway through the back-and-forth third period when Tyler Young sent a pass to linemate Roberto Cellini, who put the puck in the back of the net. Amherst was ultimately unable to break through their opponents’ strong defense, even with an extra skater at the end of the game. Senior goalie David Cunningham put in a strong performance, finishing with a total of 32 saves in the tough 0-2 loss.

Two of Middlebury’s three goals in their decisive 3-1 win over Amherst the next night occurred within a minute of each other. Other than this short breakdown, however, Amherst goaltender Connor Girard ’18 played well; he made 24 saves throughout the game, including one from point-blank range during the opening minutes of the contest.

At the end of the first period, Zach Taggerty and Max Greenwald opened the scoring by executing a textbook 2 vs. 1 to put the Panthers ahead. The flurry of goals occurred at the beginning of the second period: first, Ronald Fishman scored a fluke goal when he chanced a tight-angle shot from the corner. A minute later, Spencer Cage slid a pass to Jake Charles, who beat Girard over the shoulder. Amherst’s lone goal of the weekend came with four minutes left in the second period.

During the second Middlebury penalty of the period, Theo Hannah ’16 received a pass from Patrick Arena ’16 and sent a shot flying from the point through the five-hole of Panthers goaltender Liam Moorfield-Yee. The Panthers, on the other hand, were unable to capitalize on their sole man-advantage opportunity of the evening.

Unfortunately, the purple and white’s comeback attempt was short-lived, as they failed to record another score for the rest of the game. In fact, the third period went entirely scoreless, even though Amherst pulled Girard for two minutes in a fruitless attempt to break down the Panthers’ defense.
This weekend brought the regular season to a close. Amherst is currently ranked sixth in the NESCAC and will face Bowdoin in the quarterfinal round. The purple and white will look to bounce back from their recent struggles and regain their early season form in an attempt to make a run in the postseason
The Polar Bears should prove to be a tough matchup for the purple and white — the teams’ first contest ended in a scoreless tie and their more recent game at the beginning of this month resulted in a 1-3 loss for the Amherst squad. The quartefinal playoff game will be played at Bowdoin this coming Saturday with the time of puck drop to be determined.