Jeffs play UMass-Boston to a Scoreless Standstill
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
Over their past four games, the men’s hockey team have compiled a 1-2-1 record after going unbeaten for 13 straight games. With the NESCAC Championship looming, the Lord Jeffs looked to gain a higher seed in the standings in order to host their opponent when the playoffs start. With two conference games ahead of them, they had every chance they needed to gain precious home-field advantage during postseason hockey. This past weekend, the Jeffs found themselves in control of their own destiny, and in many ways, capitalized on it.

On Friday night, Amherst took to the ice at Orr Rink against Babson College in what turned out to be a thriller of a game. In the first period, both Amherst and Babson skated well, but each team accumulated early penalties. In Babson’s case, it was irrelevant, but it made a mess for the Jeffs, as the Beavers were able to get the most out of on an early power play with a goal just after the five-minute mark.

Later in the period, Babson lit the lamp once more on a slapshot, giving the Beavers a 2-0 lead. Both teams would end the period with solid defense and goaltending, but it was apparent that Amherst would need a serious comeback in order to prevail against a team with hardly any flaws.

The second period featured a myriad of penalties, from contact to the head to hitting from behind, and from the stands, the game looked to be a bruiser. For almost the entire duration of the period, both teams seemed to be deadlocked. After over 18 minutes of play, Amherst was able to cut the lead to 2-1, as junior Joe Brock was able to redirect the puck from a Brandon Hew ’13 shot to the back of the net. With the second period over, the Lord Jeffs once again needed more goals, and in the third period there were plenty.

The Jeffs found their equalizer only two minutes after the third period began, as freshman Mike Moher scored the goal on the power play after assists from Matthew Rhone ’11 and Nick Brunette ’13. Brunette would also find himself in the middle of things midway through the period, scoring the game-winning goal, with Keith Nelson ’10 and Mark Colp ’12 assisting. Amherst would go on to score one more goal, with Luke Arnold ’11 putting one past the Babson goalie to give Amherst a 4-2 lead that it would hold onto for the rest of the game.

With a win under their belt, Amherst played again on Saturday afternoon, taking on the University of Massachusetts, Boston in their final regular season game. The momentum from the night before seemed to be all gone throughout most of the game, as Amherst was held scoreless during the first and second periods of the game. To make matters worse, the Jeffs had given up a goal early in the first period, and had failed to find a way to capitalize on power plays or other scoring chances.

In the same dramatic fashion as the night before, Amherst would find a way to knot things up, even if they needed a two-man advantage to do it. Midway through the third period, Brock scored his second goal of the weekend to tie the game, with Colp and Nelson giving him the helpers. From that point on, defense was the name of the game, as both the Jeffs and the Beacons were able to stop the other team from scoring. Amherst goalie Cole Anderson ’11 was able to hold strong during overtime, stopping four shots during the extra time.

With the tie and a Trinity College loss, Amherst was given the fourth seed in the NESCAC Championship. Amherst will play host to the Bantams Saturday night, Feb. 27th, at 7 p.m. at Orr Rink. The Jeffs played Trinity early on in the season, losing 2-0 in what was Amherst’s second game of the season. The players don’t seem to be too fazed by it, however, and thoroughly believe that they have as good a chance as anybody.

“As far as the NESCAC goes, I don’t think there is a team that stacks up to our speed and skill,” said Eddie Effinger ’12. “When we work hard and make good decisions, we are one of the elite teams in the country.”

Head coach Jack Arena has stated that the team is capable of pulling through, and that they’ve played well. “There have been so many positives to all of our recent games and we’ll try not to lose sight of that,” he said. “We’ve only lost four games all year  — we’ll be fine.”

The upcoming playoffs will certainly present challenges for the 13th-ranked Jeffs, as the NESCAC boasts several top ranked teams, such as No.5 Middlebury, No.8 Williams and No.10 Bowdoin. Assuming that the Jeffs can get past these initial hurdles, a ticket into the NCAA tournament would leave the door open for anything.

Issue 16, Submitted 2010-02-24 15:14:46