Jeffs Split Double-header
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
Last weekend, the men’s hockey team went into play with a 13-game unbeaten streak, moving up in the national rankings to the No.7 spot overall. However, the weekend ended with a loss and a tie to end the streak and move the team down to the No.11 slot in the rankings. The Lord Jeffs also lost their place at the top of the NESCAC standings, moving behind Bowdoin and Middlebury. Amherst looked to regain the momentum they lost, playing against New England College and St. Anselm College over the weekend.

On Friday night, the Jeffs found their old form against New England College, pummeling the Pilgrims with a 7-2 win. Amherst had 21 points on the night, with six different players scoring goals. In the first period, Amherst scored within the first two minutes, with Matthew Rhone ’11 finding the back of the net after assists from Gavin Carson ’11 and Jamie Hawkrigg ’13.

The second period featured five goals from the Lord Jeffs, with three of the goals coming off of the power play. Mark Colp ’12, Trip Wray ’10, Eddie Effinger ’12 and Nick Brunette ’13 all put a goal past the New England goalie, with Amherst totaling 23 shots on goal for the period. Sophomore Jake Hannon added another goal in the third period, giving the Jeffs seven goals on the night, which was more than enough to compensate for the two goals scored by New England.

The 7-2 victory for the Jeffs was very convincing, as well as satisfying, as the team regained the status atop the NESCAC standings, but there was a change of hand in the second game of the weekend double-header. Taking on St. Anselm on Saturday proved to be a more difficult challenge for Amherst. For the past 10 years, Amherst and St. Anselm have never won a game against each other when playing at home, and unfortunately for the Jeffs, this trend would continue.

At the beginning of the first period, Effinger scored a goal to give Amherst a 1-0 lead. This advantage would dissipate, however, in the second period, when St. Anselm scored two short-handed goals. Senior Andrew Stevenson knotted things up later in the period, scoring his first goal of the season after getting assists from Keith Nelson ’10 and Johnny Van Siclen ’13. By the end of the second period, the Jeffs and the Hawks were tied at two, and both teams were in line to go down to the wire to get the win.

Halfway through the third period, the Lord Jeffs found some daylight, with Carson finding the back of the net off of a rebound. The 3-2 Amherst lead was only temporary, as St. Anselm was able to equalize only a few minutes later. The Hawks continued their comeback by scoring again, and this time there was no answer given by Amherst. At the end of regulation, the Jeffs lost 3-4, despite the fact that they outshot St. Anselm 33-21.

Irregular game play has affected the team throughout the year, and the coaching staff has noted it.

“We’re still being plagued by some uneven play,” said head coach Jack Arena. “We have been affected a bit too much by how the game plays out and the breaks we either get or don’t get. We need to be consistent in our approach and control our mind-set. We can’t let the ebbs and flows of the game have such an effect.”

Although the weekend results did not correlate with what the team desired, there were bright spots regardless of the loss on Saturday. Several freshmen on the team played pivotal roles in each game, including Nick Brunette (one goal, one assist on Friday), Jamie Hawkrigg (two assists on Friday), Mike Moher (one assist on Friday), Nathan Corey (four saves on Friday), Brandon Hew (one assist on Saturday) and Johnny Van Siclen (one assist on Saturday). This is a great display of depth for the team, and this will become a key factor in the success of the team as the regular season winds down.

Preparations for the upcoming weekend will be critical to the team’s success. “Going from being unbeaten for 14 games to then going 1-2-1 in your next four is definitely tough,” said Brandon Hew. “This week of practice will be big for us. I think we have lacked a solid week of practice for some time now, so hopefully that will change.”

The hard work should pay off for the Jeffs, as noted by Eddie Effinger.

“When we work hard and make good decisions, we are one of the elite teams in the country,” he said. “The question will be [whether or not] we can play at an elite level for the next month.”

The Lord Jeffs will discover if they have what it takes soon, as they will play two more regular season games this year. Amherst will take on Babson College and UMass,Boston this weekend on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m., respectively. Both games will count towards the Jeffs’ NESCAC record, and could decide how they spend their postseason.

Issue 15, Submitted 2010-02-24 15:24:51