Working Overtime
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
In the opening round of the NESCAC Championship last weekend, the women’s hockey team defeated Colby College 10-1 in what was a pure display of dominance. There was never any doubt that Amherst was the better team, and the win gave the team a bit of redemption after a loss to the Mules earlier in the season. With a big helping of momentum and the advantage of playing at Orr Rink for the remainder of the tournament, Amherst entered this past weekend looking to capitalize on their opportunities.

On Saturday afternoon, the second-ranked Lord Jeffs took the ice against Bowdoin College. Amherst had beaten Bowdoin twice during the regular season, by scores of 3-2 and 5-0. While the wins against Bowdoin were not the easiest wins for the Jeffs to pick up, there was little doubt that Amherst would perform well against the Polar Bears in the semifinals.

This early confidence was dented midway through the first period, as Bowdoin claimed a 1-0 lead after scoring a bizarre goal that began with a deflection off an Amherst defender.

Bowdoin struck again after a scoreless second period, as they increased their lead to two goals after just after one minute played into the third period. The breakaway goal silenced the home fans, while the roar from the visitors carried throughout the rink.

Although spirits were dampened, Amherst would retaliate with a goal of their own, as Randi Zukas ’11 scored a power play goal that trimmed Bowdoin’s lead to one. Stephanie Clegg ’12 and Courtney Hanlon ’11 assisted Zukas’ goal. Just over six minutes later, Hanlon found herself involved again, scoring the equalizer after an assist from Kate Dennett ’10. The game would eventually go to overtime, where Amherst needed some late game heroics to advance to the finals.

Going into overtime, the Lord Jeffs found themselves one mistake away from being eliminated from the NESCAC championship, and possibly the NCAA Tournament. About 11 minutes after the 20-minute overtime period began, Geneva Lloyd ’13 was able to put home a clutch, game-winning goal. The Amherst players went crazy, dog piling on each other, while Bowdoin left the ice and bid farewell to their season.

After the game, No.5 Trinity College and No.10 Middlebury College played in the second semifinal game, with the winner advancing to play Amherst in the finals. The game would prove to be an interesting one, as the game went into four overtimes before Trinity pushed a goal through. As the longest game in Division III women’s hockey history, it was anticipated that Trinity would be tired out in the final game against Amherst, but they would prove otherwise on Sunday afternoon.

With an arena filled with excited fans, the atmosphere at Orr Rink on Sunday was as vibrant as the beautiful weather outside. As both teams took the ice, a feeling of expectation and redemption was present, as Amherst had lost to Middlebury the previous year in the NESCAC finals, and Trinity was expected to be exhausted from the night before. The first period offered slightly different feelings, as Trinity would prove to be a worthy adversary.

In the first period, Amherst applied most of the offensive pressure, firing 17 shots on goal. Trinity was only able to muster five shots, but this proved to be enough to push a goal through. With less than four minutes to play in the first period, Trinity lit the lamp and took a 1-0 lead over Amherst. Apparently, the team that was supposed to be drained had a little bit of kick left in them.

Amherst would strike back in the second period, as senior captain Kirsten Dier delivered the game-tying goal. Emily Vitale ’12 and Michelle McGann ’10 contributed with the helpers. Neither team was able to score again for the duration of regulation, remarkably, as the game went into overtime.

Each team had gone through overtime before, and by this time the fans were rather anxious for a result. It wouldn’t take too long for the end to come, as the game would come to an end after a peculiar, yet brilliant, goal off the stick of Hanlon. Hanlon’s shot from the right wing drilled Trinity goalie Isabelle Iwachiw in the stomach, and while she tried to trap the puck, it caromed out of her glove and slowly trickled into the back of the net.

A deafening roar filled the rink as the Lord Jeffs once again piled onto each other, celebrating their overtime win. The NESCAC Championship trophy was then presented to the team, and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament was secured. On Monday morning, it was announced that Amherst would claim the No.1 seed in the tournament, which earned them a first-round bye.

Dier, who scored the game-tying goal in the NESCAC final on Sunday, was recently nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which is given annually to college hockey’s finest citizen. Dier, a neuroscience major, has been a key member of the team and the community since arriving at Amherst. The recipient of the award will be announced during the NCAA Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit on April 9.

Amherst has several players from its hockey programs that were recently named to the NESCAC All-Conference First and Second Teams. Lloyd and Zukas were named to the 2009-10 NESCAC Women’s Ice Hockey All-Conference First Team, while Hanlon and Dier were named to the Second Team. From the men’s team, Amherst freshman Jamie Hawkrigg was selected to the All-Conference Second Team as well.

Issue 18, Submitted 2010-03-10 04:56:50