Men’s Hockey Suffers First Two-Game Losing Streak Since 2008
By Brenton Arnablodi '14, Managing Sports Editor
The men’s hockey team endured a rough patch this past weekend, losing to non-conference opponents Manhattanville and Utica by scores of 5-0 and 3-1, respectively. The losses dropped the Jeffs’ record to 2-2-0, and mark the program’s first two-game losing streak since November 2008.

Before their recent struggles, the Jeffs started the season brightly, beating NESCAC foes Wesleyan and Trinity before Thanksgiving break. “It was great to start the season off with two victories on the road. We couldn’t have asked for better results, and we executed our game plan very well,” forward Joe Brock ’11 said.

Fueled by excellent special teams play, the Jeffs cruised to a 4-0 victory over Wesleyan in the season opener last Friday. Amherst scored a pair of power play goals in the first period to gain the early edge.

Dylan Trumble ’13 bumped the Jeffs’ lead to 3-0 with a rebound goal seven minutes into the second period, and co-captain Eddie Effinger ’11 capped the scoring with a short-handed breakaway goal midway through the third period. Goalkeeper Cole Anderson ’11 had a terrific game between the pipes, stopping 26 shots for his fourth career shutout. The Jeffs outshot Wesleyan 34-26 for the game.

The Jeffs were also able to avenge last year’s season-ending overtime playoff defeat against Trinity, beating the Bantams 4-2 last Saturday.

The Bantams skated to a quick start, scoring the game’s first goal just 1:57 into the first period. Trinity forward Sebastian Kimmel blasted a one-timer past Anderson to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead. After absorbing the early blow, Amherst shifted the momentum as the first period progressed. The Jeffs created a flurry of scoring chances late in the period, forcing Trinity goalie Wesley Vesprini to make some tough saves.

The offensive pressure eventually paid dividends, however, as Amherst tied the game at 1-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. First-year Andrew Kurlandski ’14 picked a great time to score his first collegiate goal, rifling a well-placed shot just inside the right post.

After a reasonably action-packed first period, the rest of the game was more of a defensive struggle, as both teams struggled to find shooting lanes. The opportunistic Jeffs, however, managed to score two goals on only six shots in the second period. Joe Brock ’11 tallied the go-ahead goal seven minutes into the middle frame, and co-captain Trip Wray ’11 scored just one minute later to extend the Amherst lead to 3-1.

Trinity closed the deficit to 3-2 midway through the third period, but the Jeffs held on for the victory. Instead of retreating into a defensive shell, the Jeffs successfully maintained puck possession in the offensive zone in the final two minutes, preventing Trinity from pulling Vesprini until just 0:37 remained on the clock. Brock sealed the 4-2 victory with an empty-net goal — his second score of the game — with five seconds left.

After winning two NESCAC games, the Jeffs entered this weekend as a confident bunch. Their fortunes, however, took a turn for the worse against Manhattanville and Utica. Friday’s game between the 10th-ranked Amherst and 11th-ranked Manhattanville appeared to have the makings of a tightly-contested showdown, but the Jeffs stumbled to a 5-0 defeat in their home opener.

The Jeffs were unlucky in the first period, hitting the post twice in the opening frame.

The Valiants, on the other hand, took advantage of sloppy puck control from the Jeffs, scoring two first-period goals off Amherst turnovers. Manhattanville’s second tally — scored with just 24.4 seconds remaining — delivered a crushing blow to the home side.

Frustrated by the two-goal deficit, the Jeffs committed a rash of penalties early in the second period. Manhattanville capitalized on an ensuing 5-on-3 power play, extending the lead to 3-0 at 6:51 into the second period.

Amherst had chances to make the game interesting later in the period, but failed to score on a 5-minute power play. The Valiants then exacerbated the Jeffs’ misery with another last-minute goal - this time with 47.5 seconds remaining in the second period.

The Valiants added a fifth goal early in the third period to complete the scoring. The final outcome could have been even worse, but backup goalkeeper Nathan Horey ’13 made several good saves during a 5-on-3 Manhattanville power play. Valiants’ goalkeeper Pierre-Olivier Lemieux recorded 28 saves for the shutout, while Anderson stopped 15 of 20 shots. Horey made seven saves in shutout relief.

Amherst had not lost a home game by more than five goals since Feb. 22, 2003, when the Jeffs suffered a 5-0 defeat against Colby. The lopsided result against Manhattanville, however, did not reflect the actual competitiveness of the game, as the Jeffs held a 28-27 edge in shots.

One day after being held scoreless by Manhattanville (who had previously allowed 3.33 goals per game), the Jeffs’ offense floundered again versus Utica en route to a 3-1 road defeat. Utica freshman goalie Evan Smith recorded 26 saves in Saturday’s game, frustrating the Jeffs from start to finish.

The Pioneers came out firing in the first period, scoring just 1:53 into the game. The Jeffs were able to recover from the early blow, but Utica still carried a 12-5 shots advantage into the first intermission.

Utica committed two penalties in the first minute of the second period, however, opening things up for an Amherst power play. Mark Colp ’12 fired a wrist shot into the top left corner as time expired on the 4-on-3 advantage.

The Pioneers, however, regained the lead midway through the second period, as the Jeffs’ defense left Utica forward Ridge Garbutt unguarded for a close-range shot.

The normally explosive Amherst power play unit struggled against Utica, going zero for eight with the man advantage (although the Jeffs’ one goal didcome right after a power play ended). “We had a lot of chances on the power play, including a few 5 on 3’s that we did not convert on. Obviously, we would like to make more of those opportunities, but Utica has to be given a lot of credit for blocking shots and making strong plays,” Brock said.

Utica sealed the 3-1 result with an empty-net goal in the final minute. Despite the recent losses, players remain optimistic about the team’s potential this season.

“I felt that we played better than the two scores showed, especially against Manhattanville. We just didn’t do a great job of scoring on the opportunities we got,” Brock said.

“It’s definitely positive to be 2-0 in conference games. The four points we got the first weekend will prove to be important as we get closer to the NESCAC tournament,” Brock said. “We have all the players necessary to have a very good team, we just need to clean things up a bit in the next few weeks.”

Issue 10, Submitted 2010-12-01 05:17:50