Men’s Hockey Freezes Bowdoin for Huge Victory
Issue   |   Wed, 02/08/2012 - 01:27
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
Jonathan La Rose ’12, who leads the NESCAC in save percentage (.935), stopped 37 of 38 shots in a 3-1 win over Bowdoin.

With a gritty 3-1 win over Bowdoin this weekend, the men’s hockey team has skated to the cusp of its first regular season NESCAC championship in three years.

Excellent goaltending, tight-checking defense and third-period heroics propelled Amherst (13-1-0 NESCAC) to a pair of home victories over Bowdoin and Colby (5-2 score) last weekend. In the process, the Jeffs extended their conference lead to seven points over second-place Bowdoin (8-3-3 NESCAC).Since both teams have four games left in the regular season, Amherst needs just one more win to capture the No. 1 seed and secure home-ice advantage throughout the NESCAC Tournament.

By defeating Bowdoin this past weekend, the Jeffs also avenged their humiliating 7-4 loss to the Polar Bears on Jan. 6 — Amherst’s lone defeat against NESCAC opponents this season. Prior to Friday’s rematch, Amherst had conceded just 16 goals in their other 11 conference games (an average of 1.45 per contest), so the Jeffs were determined to improve their defensive performance against Bowdoin.

Once the puck dropped at Orr Rink, however, the Polar Bears controlled play for much of the first two periods, building a 29-13 advantage in shots through 40 minutes. The score remained 1-1, however, as goaltender Jonathan La Rose ’12 made a slew of phenomenal saves to keep the Jeffs afloat.

“La Rose is one of the top goalies in the country and he’s been instrumental in every game he’s played,” head coach Jack Arena said. “A good goalie can mask a lot of mistakes.”

The Jeffs turned the tables in the third period, netting two goals and outshooting Bowdoin 10-8 in the stanza. Elliot Bostrom ’14 scored the game-winning tally with 8:48 remaining in regulation, using a screen in front of the net to record his first goal of the season.

Less than three minutes later, Mark Colp ’13 bagged a crucial insurance goal to seal the result. After a give-and-go exchange with Mike Moher ’13 resulted in a juicy rebound, Colp chipped the loose puck beneath the crossbar to give Amherst a 3-1 lead.

“In games against good teams, the momentum ebbs and flows,” Arena said. “I thought both teams had their moments, and we were fortunate to capitalize when we had ours.”

“I felt we competed well against Bowdoin. Our execution was up and down through the game, but we worked and competed throughout,” Arena said. “We were disciplined in our defensive responsibilities and when we did make mistakes La Rose was there to pick us up.”

Moher — the Jeffs’ leading scorer with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) — powered the offensive effort against Bowdoin with three assists and earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors for his strong performance.

The Jeffs laced up the skates again on Saturday, notching a 5-2 victory over Colby (2-12-0 NESCAC). After falling behind 2-1 through two periods, the Jeffs opened the floodgates with four goals in the final stanza.

Amherst dominated from the onset, outshooting Colby 30-13 in the first two periods. By the end of 40 minutes, however, the Mules held a 2-1 lead, as Colby goaltender Matt Delaney stood on his head to stymie the Jeffs’ offense.

Delaney could not withstand the Jeffs’ onslaught into the third period, however, as Amherst finally started to put pucks in the net. Andrew Kurlandski ’14 galvanized the Jeffs with a goal 2:36 into the period, rifling a wrist shot off the crossbar to even the score at 2-2. With 11:53 remaining in regulation, Mike Rowbotham ’15 scored his second power-play goal of the game to put the Jeffs ahead 3-2. Moher netted an insurance goal with 3:43 remaining, and co-captain Eddie Effinger ’12 capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left.

“We played fairly well throughout the Colby game — we just couldn’t solve their goalie,” Arena said. “Once we scored the goal to tie the game at 2-2, there was a sense on the bench that we were going to get the job done.”