Men’s Hockey Stuns No. 5 Bowdoin, but Loses to Colby
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Managing Sports Editor
The men’s hockey team experienced a roller coaster weekend, skating to a 3-2 upset comeback victory over fifth ranked Bowdoin on Friday before enduring a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss against Colby on Saturday.

The Jeffs (9-7-4, 7-5-3 NESCAC) have played relatively inconsistent hockey this season, demonstrating flashes of brilliance against elite teams while throwing away games to mediocre opponents.

“We are still searching for consistency. Sometimes we play as one of the best teams in the nation, and then other times we play like our talent is enough to win games,” resulting in losses to weaker opponents, co-Captain Eddie Effinger ’12 said.

Determined to make a statement against one of the nation’s best teams, the Jeffs played to their strengths against Bowdoin on Friday. “We played a type of game that is very successful for us: a defensive-minded, fast, relentless style that wears teams down,” Effinger said.

Bowdoin (9-5-1 NESCAC) boasts the most prolific offense in the league, scoring a league-high average of 4.27 goals per game. The Jeffs’ tenacious defense, however, stymied the Polar Bears for long stretches, limiting Bowdoin to just 20 shots. Goaltender Cole Anderson ’11 also played superbly in net, recording 18 saves.

The Jeffs skated well in the first period, outshooting the Polar Bears 9-5 in the frame. Nevertheless, the home side still found itself down 1-0 at intermission, as Bowdoin opened the scoring at the 14:29 mark of the period.

Amherst committed a rash of penalties midway through the second period, giving Bowdoin a 5-on-3 power play. The Polar Bears capitalized on the opportunity, stretching their lead to 2-0, and seemed poised to take control of the game with an extra 1:25 of power play time.

The Jeffs, however, responded quickly with a shorthanded goal, shifting the momentum in the unlikeliest of circumstances. One minute after Bowdoin’s power-play tally, a long pass sprung the Jeffs on a 2-on-1 break. Elliot Bostrom ’14 dished the puck off to Luke Arnold ’11, who lifted his own rebound over the goalie to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Jeffs tied the score at 2-2 midway through the third period, when Effinger jammed home a rebound for his seventh goal of the season. Amherst scored the game-winner just 24 seconds later, as first-year Brian Safstrom’s centering pass deflected off a Bowdoin defender’s skate to give the hosts their first lead of the night.

The desperate Polar Bears swarmed the offensive zone in the final moments, but Anderson made some crucial saves to preserve the victory.

One day after the thrilling comeback win, the Jeffs suffered a letdown against Colby (7-6-2 NESCAC) on Saturday, losing 3-2 on home ice. A Jeffs’ victory would have catapulted Amherst to the top of the conference standings, but the surging Mules (6-1-1 in past eight games) had other plans.

Colby opened the scoring three minutes into the first period, but Amherst stormed back early in the second frame. The Jeffs grabbed a 2-1 lead with two goals in a span of 1:25, as Erik Hansen ’14 and Mark Colp ’12 scored at 1:45 and 3:10 of the second period.

The Mules answered with a power-play goal seven minutes later to knot the game at 2-2. The score remained that way until Colby’s Michael Smigelski tallied the game-winner with eight minutes remaining. The Jeffs pressured late, but could not find an equalizer in the waning moments.

Amherst is currently positioned in fifth place in the conference, but remains in contention for a top seed due to the league’s extreme parity this season. The Jeffs sit only one point behind fourth-place Hamilton for home-ice advantage in the NESCAC playoffs, and just two points behind Bowdoin for the No. 1 seed.

Amherst actually has the same number of points as Williams and Middlebury, but those teams have a game in hand (and also lead Hamilton by percentage points).

The Jeffs will hit the road this weekend, taking on New England College (5-9-1 ECAC) on Friday and Saint Anselm (7-6-2 ECAC) on Saturday. Given the muddled state of the NESCAC standings, the Jeffs could propel themselves into the conference’s upper echelons with a few wins this weekend against beatable opponents.

Issue 14, Submitted 2011-02-09 17:13:57