Men’s Hockey Fights off Panthers, Advances to NESCAC Semifinals
Issue   |   Wed, 03/04/2015 - 00:18

The men’s ice hockey team had a convincing victory over Middlebury this past weekend as the Jeffs defeated the Panthers in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The win ensured the Jeffs a spot in the upcoming NESCAC semifinals, which are to be held at Orr Rink against the eight seed, Tufts. The Jumbos eliminated top-seeded Trinity in a thrilling upset during their quarterfinal match.

Middlebury came out fast despite their long trip and they had Amherst on the ropes for most of the period. With Middlebury outshooting the purple and white 11-2 in the frame, it looked like Amherst was going to be in for a long afternoon. Danny Vitale ’15 continued the stellar play he has been showing in the latter portion of the season and stuffed Middlebury on a number of good scoring chances. The first intermission came with neither team finding the back of the net and neither team being called for any penalties. The referees allowed the teams some wiggle room all night, in true playoff hockey fashion.

Most of the second period was back and forth. The Amherst adjustments during the break seemed to make a difference, as they found their stride a bit on offense as they got 16 shots on goal. David White ’18 recorded his 18th goal of the season with about five minutes remaining as he crashed the net, beating Panther net-minder Michael Peters. Aaron Deutsch ’15 and Topher Flanagan ’16 continued their assist streaks on the same play as both of them notched their 14th apples of the 2015 campaign. Both teams had one penalty each near the end of the period, but the game remained at 1-0 going into the third.

Five minutes into the third, Amherst extended their lead when senior Andrew Fenwick snuck the puck by Peters off of a good passing effort from Austin Ho ’17 and Tyler Granara ’18. Middlebury showed a spark of life as they tried to take advantage of an Amherst miscue, as the Jeffs were nailed with two penalties and found themselves on the penalty kill for nearly four minutes. But, consistent with their play all year, they managed to keep the Panther power play unit shutout. Out of desperation, Middlebury pulled their goalie for the last two minutes of the game, but it was to no avail, and Flanagan recorded the final score of the game with one second remaining in regulation to give Amherst a 3-0 win in their first playoff game.

The team now advances and will host the NESCAC semifinals this Saturday, March 7 with the contest beginning at 4 p.m.