AMHERST, Mass. — For the second time in as many seasons, the Amherst College men’s ice hockey team handed NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College its first loss of the year by beating the 3rd-ranked Ephs 4-2 at Orr Rink this evening. Amherst grabbed sole possession of first place in the conference standings at 6-2-2 (4-0-1 NESCAC), while Williams drops to 7-1-1 (4-1-1) on the year.
Last year, Amherst went to Williams to drop the then 6-0-1 Ephs by a 4-1 score. Tonight, Williams brought a 7-0-1 record to Orr Rink with the nation’s top defense and goaltender. Amherst poured in four goals for the second straight meeting, and has won four straight against Williams by a combined score of 20-5. Tonight’s victory also earned the Jeffs the 2011 Little Three title following a pair of wins over Wesleyan already this season.
In the first ten minutes of the opening period each team killed off a penalty to keep the game tied with 10:12 to play. Neither team was able to test the opposition’s goal tending on the power play, leaving the game in a scoreless deadlock.
Williams had a golden opportunity to steal a lead with 6:18 to play. Amherst goaltender Cole Anderson (Sylvan Lake, Alberta) denied a Willaims player on the doorstep, but an Eph forward came onto the rebound for a wrap-around attempt. His backhanded shot went across the goal mouth and off the post, as Cole fell backwards onto the puck to end the threat.
With 3:09 to play in the first, Amherst junior Jeremy Deutsch (Huntington, NY) picked the perfect time to score his first collegiate goal. After a turnover in the middle of the zone, the combination of Trip Wray (Walpole, MA) and Erik Hansen (Deephaven, MN) got the puck on Deutsch’s stick. From there, the Lord Jeff defender wove his way into the Williams zone before firing a snap shot under Eph netminder Ryan Purdy’s left leg pad.
In the final two minutes of the period Amherst senior defender Gavin Carson (Montreal, Quebec) saved a sure goal with a clearance off the line. The heads-up play helped Amherst take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Williams caught a break with 6:27 to play in the second period as Amherst rookie Brian Safstrom (Woodinville, NY) was called for a slashing penalty. Midway through the power play, the Ephs capitalized with the extra skater on a tic-tac-toe goal. Finishing off the easy score on the crease was Connor Olvany on assists from Bryden McGhee and Matt Masucci.
Amherst returned the favor with a perfectly executed power play score with 3:00 to play in the second period. After junior captain Eddie Effinger (Belleville, IL) skated the puck into the zone past Williams’ Ryan Scott, he dropped a pass back to Jamie Hawkrigg (Waterdown, Ontario) at the point. Hawkrigg pushed a pass across for a one-time slap pass by Wray. The puck landed on the stick of a wide-open Matt Rhone (Dedham, MA) on the doorstep for an easy tap-in score.
The Lord Jeffs killed off a penalty early in the third period to keep the Ephs from stealing momentum, and then took a 3-1 lead with 13:40 to play on a score by Hansen. Sophomore Dylan Trumble (Calgary, Alberta) carried the puck down the right side on a 2-on-1, and put a well-timed pass on Hansen’s backhand just in time for the rookie to sneak a shot into the open side of Purdy’s net.
With 4:06 to play the Ephs stole one back, getting a score on a nice individual effort by Ben Contini. After Williams took possession just outside the Amherst zone, Contini fired a quick shot between a Lord Jeff defender’s legs, using the defender to screen Anderson. The shot snuck just inside the post to close the gap to 3-2.
With 0.5 seconds to play, Rhone put added an empty-net score to put an exclamation point on the victory. With the score, Rhone finished the game with two goals, while Wray dished out three assists. Anderson picked up 27 saves in the win, while Purdy made 25 stops in his first loss of the year.