Men’s hockey falls to rival Amherst 3-1

James McNamara ’17 had two shots in the men’s 3-1 loss to rival Amherst on Friday.
James McNamara ’17 had two shots in the men’s 3-1 loss to rival Amherst on Friday.

Last Saturday, men’s hockey (15-8-3, 10-5-3 in the NESCAC) fell to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals. The teams racked up a combined 43 penalty minutes and Amherst’s two power-play goals in the third period were the difference in the 3-1 defeat.

The first period of play began with notable rushes for both sides before play settled down. The Ephs struck first just 6:43 into the period when George Hunkele ’17 slipped the puck past Jeff netminder Dave Cunningham. Assists were credited to co-captain Nick Anderson ’14 and Craig Kitto ’15. Amherst responded to the early Williams tally just over a minute later to tie the game at one goal apiece. Neither side found the back of the net again in the first, so the period ended with a score of 1-1.

The second frame of action began as the first had ended – with high-intensity hockey and many promising scoring opportunities. Throughout the period, both teams mustered odd-man rushes and shots on goal, but Sean Dougherty ’15 and Cunningham proved rock-steady between the pipes for the Ephs and Jeffs, respectively. In the period, Amherst fired 20 shots on goal, while the men managed 13.

With the score still tied at one apiece, the third period was the deciding one in the game. The intensity of play steadily increased in the opening minutes of the period. The tides turned, however, after a controversial game misconduct penalty for contact to the head was called on Sam Gray ’17. The five-minute major penalty put the Jeffs on the power play and took the wind out of the sails for the Ephs. Only 1:31 into the lengthy penalty kill, Zander Masucci ’16 was sent to the penalty box for boarding and Amherst found itself with an opportunistic two-man advantage. Up two men, Amherst maintained possession and worked the puck skillfully around its offensive zone. Just 26 seconds into the five-on-three, Jeff Andrew Kurlandski beat Dougherty after the power-play unit quickly rotated the puck from the strong to weak side, putting the Jeffs up 2-1.

A flurry of penalties followed the Amherst goal. The men found themselves on the power play after an Amherst player received an almost identical game misconduct for contact to the head that epitomized a “make-up call.” However, the Ephs could not capitalize and a penalty of their own left the men playing four-on-four hockey three minutes into the Jeffs’ five minute major. With less than five minutes to play, a scrum in front of the net after a whistle resulted in two Ephs and one Jeff being sent to the penalty box, a controversial call that once again puzzled onlookers. On the ensuing man advantage, Amherst notched an insurance goal to put the

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Jeffs up 3-1 with 3:05 to play. As time winded down, Williams went on the attack. Notably, a shot from James McNamara ’17 was snatched by Cunningham, stifling a comeback attempt. Williams pulled Dougherty to get an extra attacker, and with an Amherst player still in the box, the men had a six-on-four advantage for the final minute of regulation. Despite this, they failed to put the puck in the net and dropped the contest 3-1.

“Amherst is a good team and it was a very even game,” co-captain Paul Steinig ’14 said. “We played hard and I’m really proud of the heart and effort we showed all

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season.”

With the season-ending loss, the Ephs will graduate Anderson, Steinig, assistant captain Tucker Dayton ’14, Matt Doyle ’14 and Sam Kurland ’14.