Women’s Hockey Team Nips Norwich to End Regular Season
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
After nearly three months, the women’s hockey team played its final regular season game on Saturday at Orr Rink against Norwich University. Last weekend, the Lord Jeffs claimed the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship, giving them the chance to work on their game and prepare for the upcoming playoffs on Saturday against the Cadets.

The second-ranked Jeffs took the ice on Saturday afternoon and got off to a hot start. After just over a minute of play, Norwich sent a player to the sin bin, giving Amherst a chance to convert on the power play. Just after the Norwich penalty expired, Amherst scored its first goal of the game, as sophomore defenseman Stephanie Clegg was able to find the back of the net. Fellow tri-captains Courtney Hanlon ’11 and Kate Dennett ’10 contributed with assists on the play.

Midway through the first period, the Cadets were able to equalize on Amherst goalie Caroline Hu ’11, who had not given up a goal for over 230 minutes before that. With the score tied, the Lord Jeffs looked to turn things around, and did so rather quickly. Just under two minutes after Norwich scored, the Jeffs were able to regain the lead, as Junior Megan Curry lit the lamp to put the Jeffs up 2-1. Once again, Dennett and Hanlon both contributed assists.

The second period consisted of 20 minutes of equal playing, as each team had six shots on goal and one penalty. Neither team scored, as the period was played almost entirely at center ice. Amherst kept the lead going into the third period, and wound up adding to it later in the game.

After about five minutes into the third period, Norwich sent another player to the penalty box, which would give Amherst another chance to score. Fifteen seconds into the power play, Dennett and Randi Zukas ’11, who had been named the NESCAC co-player of the week, found Hanlon in the left circle, who then shot the puck past the Norwich goalie. This would end up being the last goal of the game, as the Amherst defense held onto its lead and finished the game, as well as the regular season, with a 3-1 win.

Many of the players saw this game as an opportunity to finish the season strong and to prepare for the playoffs, and the result from Saturday’s game was the one they were hoping for.

“I thought the team played very well, from our suffocating and aggressive defense all the way up to our relentless, gritty fore-check,” said Hu. “All three of our goals were off of rebounds, a result of tenacity and crashing the net hard.”

“We went into the Norwich game as if it were our first playoff game, as we knew how important it was to go into next weekend with a certain level of confidence,” said Curry. “So overall it was a great win for us and taking the confidence from that game into playoffs is crucial.”

Amherst will be hosting Colby College next weekend for the opening round of the NESCAC Championship. Colby is the eighth-seeded team, but this isn’t giving the Jeffs any reason to take it easy. The only conference game that Colby has won this year came against Amherst, and while many Jeffs still find that irritating, they also realize what Colby is capable of.

“From here on out, we recognize that underestimating any of our opponents means risking the end of our season,” said Curry. “Colby beat us before. We know what they are capable of, so our mentality is to come out hard right away and find the back of the net early.”

“Given our results from last time [against Colby], we definitely won’t be taking them for granted,” echoed Hu.

The Lord Jeffs will look to continue their season this weekend with a win against Colby. The game will be at Orr Rink at 1 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 27. The team is very excited about the upcoming game, and they are more dedicated than ever to produce good results.

“It’s been a long season, but now this is the time where everything counts,” said Hu. “We’re very excited for the upcoming challenges. We’re a strong and skilled team, and now it is more important than ever for us to execute, play with intensity and stay focused for a full 60 minutes, every game.”

Issue 16, Submitted 2010-02-24 05:23:08