Women’s Hockey Survives Overtime Thriller, Advances to NESCAC Semis
Issue   |   Wed, 03/04/2015 - 00:32

The Amherst women’s hockey team had a nail-biter of a game this Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinal against Colby. The second-seeded Jeffs defeated the seventh-seeded Mules 2-1, in overtime. The win was crucial for the Jeffs, and they will move on in the highly competitive NESCAC tournament having obtained redemption for last year’s loss to Colby in the quarterfinals.

“In the NESCAC, the teams are all extremely competitive,” said Erin Martin ’16. “Anyone can win any day. The one and eight seed went into four OT’s. We play in the most competitive league in all of Div. III.”

The Jeffs and Mules played during the regular season this year in a doubleheader weekend at Colby over interterm. The Jeffs won both games. This weekend’s win also helped Amherst move up in the national rankings. The Jeffs are now seventh in the country according to D3hockey.com and eighth according to the USCHO.com poll.

The first period provided lots of action but little scoring on either end. Amherst held an edge in shots with 12, but Colby goalie Jessica Thulin was once again strong in front of the net with 12 saves. The Mules had 10 shots in the first period, but Yuna Evans ’17 kept the score 0-0.

Early in the second period, the Jeffs and Mules both played a man down due to penalties, but neither team was able to capitalize. Colby held the advantage in shots this period with 10. The Jeffs’ offense picked up in the third stanza, racking up an impressive shot advantage 14-5 over the Mules. However, Colby struck first in the third period with Megan Fortier finding an opening in a crowded scramble around the net.

The Jeffs put on the pressure, and at the 7:39 mark Emily Flom ’15 found the back of the net to tie the score. Caitlyn Ryan ’17 and Martin were credited with the assists. With plenty of time left to play, the Jeffs continued to challenge Thulin in goal. The Mules’ defense was able to keep the score tied, and the battle continued in overtime.

Anne Gillard ’15 had a great opportunity in the opening minute of the overtime period. She skated down the ice and put a shot on Thulin, which bounced off the pads into the center of the ice. The Mule defense was able to clear the puck before any Jeffs could capitalize.

Halfway through the 20-minute overtime, the Jeffs found themselves on a power play. The puck traveled around the Colby goal, but none of the shots fired could squeeze past the talented Thulin. As the power play expired, Eileen Harris ’16 slipped the ball to the team’s leading scorer, senior captain Tori Salmon. Salmon shot the ball and scored the game winner, her 16th goal of the season.

“There is a big sense of relief in the locker room being able to move past the quarterfinals this year,” Martin said. “Colby has a great team, and I am just happy we could pull it out this year.”

The win secured the Jeffs a spot in the NESCAC semifinals, which will be hosted by top-seeded Middlebury this weekend. The Jeffs will have to get by third-seeded Trinity first in order to punch their ticket to the NESCAC final. Earlier this season, the Jeffs tied and lost away games at Trinity’s home rink. Playing in neutral territory this time, the Jeffs are looking to come out on top or face going home for good.

“I am most excited to play in another close game,” Martin said. “Playoff hockey brings a new intensity to the game, and I know our team is ready to play our best.”

The semifinal contest begins this Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. in Middlebury, Vermont.