In their 2017 NESCAC tournament appearance, the Amherst men’s ice hockey team was unable to recreate last year’s Cinderella run to the championship game. On Saturday, Feb. 25, the purple and white were bumped from the first round of the NESCAC tournament after a 2-1 loss to archrival Williams. Just a week ago, the purple and white survived a close 1-0 victory over the Ephs at Orr Rink, but luck would not be on their side in Williamstown.
Ranked as the fourth- and fifth-seeded teams in tournament play, this was aptly predicted to be a nail-biter from start to finish.
Neither team disappointed. Amherst owned a slight 28-23 advantage in shots, while a slew of close calls kept the game intriguing throughout.
To kick the action off, defender Tyler Granara ’18 scored on a power play 11:35 into the first period with only his second goal of the season on a feed from first-year Noah Gilreath and a secondary assist credited to David White ’18.
After Amherst worked the puck around the offensive zone with ease, Granara wound up and rifled a shot past the Williams goalie.
The Ephs managed to crawl their way back in the second period with a goal from standout forward Marcus Mollica.
Fifteen minutes later, a dribbling shot by Williams would send Amherst into the locker room trailing by one goal.
In spite of their continued hustle, a few late Amherst penalties in succession halted their momentum.
In a desperate attempt, the purple and white pulled goalie Connor Girard ’18 with 32 seconds left on the clock, to no avail.
With the loss, Amherst ends the season 14-7-3 overall and 9-6-3 in conference play.
This year, Thomas Lindstrom ’18 and Patrick Daly ’20 led the team in points with 22 apiece, while the Amherst offense averaged 3.04 goals per game.
“It was a pleasure playing with a great group of seniors for three years [Austin Ho, Adam Ellison and Chris Roll],” White noted. “We learned a lot from them and are happy they lead us this season. [We’re] looking forward to next year with a strong group of returning players.”
Amherst will continue to practice this week as they await a potential at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.