Men’s hockey (9-11-4, 7-8-4 in the NESCAC) wrapped up the regular season by splitting its last weekend of games. After besting Hamilton, 4-3 on Friday, Williams was unable to duplicate the result, falling to Amherst, 6-2, on Saturday. The Ephs are seeded seventh in the upcoming NESCAC tournament and will take on Middlebury on Saturday.
With playoff positioning and Little Three pride on the line, Williams faced off against archrival Amherst to bring the regular season to a close. Buoyed by their NESCAC success on the previous day, the Ephs had the advantage of momentum over Amherst, who most recently lost a close contest against Middlebury. It was Amherst, however, who had the brighter start. After only four minutes, the Jeffs opened the scoring, and 10 minutes later, they padded their lead with another.
Amherst goaltender Jonathan Lerose proved to be a thorn in the Ephs’ side all night, stifling a number of promising chances for Williams throughout the first period.
The second period saw the Ephs keep up heavy pressure as they controlled the puck and the play. Early on, Owen Holm ’10 gave the Ephs their just reward for their constant attack, netting a goal on a pass from Steve Bruch ’08.
Amherst struck back with lightning quickness, however, restoring their two-goal advantage only 16 seconds after Holm’s goal. The rest of the period remained goal-less, setting up a decisive third period.
The period, as it turned out, belonged to Amherst, who came out quickly to score at the 6:25 mark. A second goal after 10:14 effectively closed the door on the Ephs’ comeback hopes. A minute and a half later the Jeffs capped off their scoring, securing an insurmountable 6-1 advantage.
Williams notched a consolation point, as Ryan Young ’11 scored with five minutes left to play. Assists were credited to Brandon Jackmuff ’08 and Brian Malchoff ’11.
Head Coach Bill Kangas refused to blame his team for the defeat, instead giving credit to Amherst and looking forward optimistically to the NESCAC tournament. “We definitely wanted to come out and win this one for the seniors, but Amherst played well and we give them a lot of credit,” said Kangas. “Hopefully we can take this defeat and turn it into motivation for the postseason.”
On Friday, a galvanized Williams team exploded out of the gates, netting four goals in an astonishing 8:06 span in the first period. Perhaps more impressive than the swiftness of the goals was the distribution of the action: four different goal scorers were fed by four other assisters.
The first goal came after seven and a half minutes, scored by Bruch and assisted by Ben Fields ’09. At the 12:11 mark, Young slotted home after good work from Matt Masucci ’11 and Greg Schultz ’08. The highlight reel play of the night came only 26 seconds later, as Matt Draheim ’09 unleashed a vicious slap shot, assisted by Holm, to put the Ephs up by three. William Bruce ’08 gave the Ephs a seemingly unassailable lead when he netted the fourth with five minutes to go in the first period.
To Hamilton’s credit, the Ephs’ four-goal outburst did not faze them. Eight minutes into the second period, the Continentals got on the scoreboard, and eight minutes later, they pulled another back, making it 4-2. Hamilton applied intense pressure for much of the second and third periods, and their efforts were rewarded with a third goal at the 12:03, setting up a nail-biting finish as the Ephs defended desperately to try and maintain their once-formidable lead.
Ultimately, the Ephs were able to hold Hamilton at bay for the rest of the game. Though the game was marked by fast-paced scoring in the first fifteen minutes, Hamilton got itself back in the game, and in the end, the Ephs played occasionally ugly, but ultimately effective hockey in order to earn the victory.
Head Coach Kangas was pleased with the performance and also impressed with Hamilton’s ability to come back from a large deficit. “It’s good to get our first true NESCAC win,” remarked Kangas. “We give Hamilton a lot of credit, they really clawed back and fought hard.”