Men’s Hockey Skates Past Bowdoin and Colby in Important NESCAC Games
Issue   |   Tue, 02/06/2018 - 22:26

The Amherst men’s hockey team, in the midst of a season defined by inconsistency, finally seemed to find some positive momentum this past weekend. Coming away with two huge NESCAC wins, the Mammoths have improved their overall record to 9-7-4 and sit fourth in the NESCAC standings.

“This was an important weekend for us,” junior defender Phil Johansson said. “It feels great to get two wins, and we’re hoping to carry that momentum through the rest of the regular season and into the postseason.”

On Friday night, the Mammoths took on NESCAC foe Bowdoin at home. Patrick Daly ’20 got things off to a quick start, finding the back of the net within the first four minutes of the game. Finding his own rebound after the initial save from Bowdoin’s Erik Wurman, Daly went top shelf to put Amherst up by one goal. Junior forward Jack Fitzgerald doubled the Mammoths’ lead early in the second period, when Max Roche ’19 found him in the slot with a no-look backhanded pass.

Determined to stay in the contest, the Polar Bears continued to fight and managed to tie things up with five minutes to go in the second period.

Goals from Daniel McMullan and Thomas Dunleavy brought the score to 2-2 and seemed to change the momentum of the game. However, Daly notched his second tally of the game with 48.2 seconds to go to restore Amherst’s lead heading into the third period.

The last score of the game came in the opening minutes of the final frame. Pieter von Steinbergs ’21 received the puck at the right point and fired a shot past Wurman to give Amherst a two-goal lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Defensively, senior goaltender Connor Girard made 33 saves to secure the win.

The following day, the Mammoths sought revenge against Colby, against whom they had lost 4-1 in January. Nick Bondra ’21 put Amherst on the board first in the 13th minute. Receiving a beautiful pass from Roche on the left dot, Bondra one-timed a shot past the Mules’ net minder. Before the end of the first period, sophomore Noah Gilreath increased the Mammoths’ lead to two. Johansson found Gilreath at the point, and Gilreath’s shot redirected off a defender’s skate into the back of the net.

The Mules came out hard in the second period and seemed poised to make a comeback. In the opening minutes of the period, a power play goal from Colby’s Michael Decker cut the Mammoths’ lead in half. One-timing a shot from the point, Decker went five-hole on Girard to keep the Mules in the game.

The Mammoths responded just before the end of the period, notching two goals in the remaining four minutes to halt Colby’s comeback. Faking a shot to beat his defender, senior captain Patrick Mooney powered a wrister past Mules’ goalie Sean Lawrence. A mere 14 seconds later, Fitzgerald capitalized on a three-on-two opportunity to put Amherst up by three goals headed into the second intermission.

The final nail in Colby’s coffin came in the last five minutes of the third period. Recording his first collegiate goal, Corey Goldstein ’21 beat his man to a loose puck in front of the Mules’ net and fired a shot into the nylon. The Mules put Amherst under pressure for the rest of the period, but Girard came up with several stops to protect the 5-1 victory for the Mammoths.

Next up, Amherst will host Tufts on Saturday, Feb. 10 and Conn. College on Sunday, Feb. 11. As it will be the last home game of the season, Sunday’s contest against the Camels will double as Senior Day.