Men's Hockey Starts Season Off With Sweep of Hamilton
Issue   |   Tue, 11/19/2013 - 23:06

This past weekend the men’s ice hockey team sailed to two big victories to open their 2013 campaign.
Playing Friday night in the home opener at historic Orr Rink, the Jeffs took on Hamilton College. They then had a quick turnaround, as they had to venture to Clinton, N.Y. the next day in an attempt to take down the Continentals once more in back-to-back games.
The first period of the first contest of the year was filled with tenacity on both sides. A chippy game in general, the Jeffs were able to make their physical presence known early on.
Despite being outshot in the first, Amherst managed to take the lead 14:31 in when Conor Brown ’16 was able to slip one by Joe Quattrocchi, the Continentals’ goalie. Assisted by Topher Flanagan ’16 and Elliot Bostrom ’14, Amherst took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Following a stellar first Zamboni resurfacing of the season, the Jeffs came back out with a fire. The Jeffs were able to take advantage of a powerplay and, following some excellent puck movement, senior captain Brian Safstrom notched his first goal of the new season, assisted by Aaron Deutsch ’15. The two-goal lead was narrowed to one, the closest Hamilton would get to a lead, when Robbie Murden managed to squeak a lucky shot by Dave Cunningham ’16, who managed 19 saves on the night, including some nifty glove-hand robberies.
The Jeffs found their stride even more in the third, managing a dominant first ten minutes of play while helped out by a couple Hamilton penalties.
Six minutes in Mike Rowbotham ’15 picked a corner on Quattrocchi, resulting in another assist by Deutsch and Safstrom’s second point of the game. Just three-and-a-half minutes later, Safstrom then notched his second goal of the game after a couple of bang-bang passes from sophomores Brown and Kevin Ryder.
Then, after a phantom interference call on Ryder, Hamilton was able to take a bite out of the lead on the power play through an admittedly excellent backdoor pass.
But it would not be enough for Hamilton, as Brown scored the fifth and final goal of the game on an empty net, as Hamilton finally decided to pull their goalie in order to get another attacker on the ice. Brown’s fifth goal gave the Jeffs a season opening victory 5-2.
On Saturday, the Jeffs made the trek to N.Y. to try to best the Continentals again. Fueled by a pair of penalties in the first, Rowbotham managed to break the tie with an unassisted power play goal nine minutes into the game.
The second period was also marked by a fast start, which has been a positive and consistent theme so far this year.
It was Brown who scored what would become the game-winning goal just over five minutes in. Safstrom marked his second assist of the weekend on the same play. Hamilton was unable to capitalize on their two power play opportunities of the period, nor the four-on-four opportunity towards the end of the period.
The third continued to be filled with excellent hockey, but neither team could find the back of the net.
The referees called the game very tight because they decided to send Deutsch to the sin bin for hooking. Shortly after, Kenny Matheson gave the Continentals some life after a goal with just over a minute remaining.

Brown, who apparently developed a nose for the empty netters in the offseason, scored the dagger with eleven seconds remaining.

The buzzer rang just after, confirming the Lord Jeff’s 3-1 victory. Cunningham had a little less to do this time around, but still finished with a solid 13 save effort.

Coach Jack Arena, who is currently in his 31st year as the head coach of the program, was proud of his team’s play.

“I thought we played well considering it was our first weekend,” Arena said. “We worked and competed very hard which is always a great foundation on which to build a team. Brian Safstrom and Conor Brown had terrific all around weekends and Andrew Kurlandski ’14 and Andrew Fenwick ’15 were asked to do a lot on Saturday, and they responded as well as we could have hoped. Dave Cunningham played very well in net both games as well.”

Everyone in the outfit is prepared to make the most of this season and after breaking down the tape everyone this team will be an even more formidable opponent in future games.

It was an excellent weekend for Amherst sports all-around, and the men’s ice hockey team certainly pulled their weight as they start their season 2-0.

They will look to continue their success this weekend with a home stand against two tough NESCAC rivals, Trinity and Wesleyan, who are also both 2-0.

Arena and company are aware of the challenge that lies ahead, as both teams “are expected to be fighting at the top of the conference this year, so this weekend will again be a big test for us.” If you’re on campus and looking for some high-quality puck stop by Orr Rink before Thanksgiving break.