AC
Jakimo

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Behind Samuel Jakimo's season-high 22 saves, 14th-ranked Amherst put the brakes on a two-game skid with a hard-fought 12-11 win against Middlebury on Saturday afternoon.

Notching their first win against the Panthers since 1989 in last year’s regular season match-up, Amherst (8-2, 4-2 NESCAC) has now taken three consecutive games from Middlebury (2-7, 2-5 NESCAC), having also defeated their league rivals in the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament prior to this season’s showdown.

Looking to stake the home team to an early edge, Mike Giordano got things going, opening up the scoring just 1:59 into the game on an Alex Englert assist. With under nine to go in the first period, Jeff Izzo put the Jeffs on the board, but Joel Blockowicz quickly broke the deadlock, notching his third of the year on an unassisted tally at 6:35.

Just 1:08 later, Devin Acton got into the act by burying his team-high 26th of the season before Evan Redwood gave the Jeffs their first lead of the day with a score at 3:51. Hoping to jumpstart the Panther attack, Stew Kerr netted consecutive tallies 2:27 apart to help Middlebury momentarily regain a 4-3 edge, but Redwood struck again, scoring with just two seconds left in the first to pull Amherst even.

Hoping to carry their momentum into the second, Aaron Mathias and Cole Cherney made it three consecutive goals for the visitors with goals at 14:00 and 10:39 to put the Jeffs back on top 6-4. Brian Ayers dampened the Amherst hot streak with a goal at 9:04, but Dan Routh made sure Amherst closed the half out strong, getting one back less than five minutes later to extend the Jeff cushion to 7-5 at the intermission.

Wanting to set the tone coming out of the break, Tim Cahill scored just 1:50 after the restart to pull the Panthers within one, but four-straight Amherst goals suddenly staked the Jeffs to an 11-6 cushion.

Redwood helped get the decisive run started, assisting on a pair of Cherney and Ramsey Bates goals at 11:01 and 9:54, before Acton netted his second of the day at the 7:50 mark. Routh capped off the run with his fifth off the year, giving the Purple & White a five-goal lead.

Trying to help bring Middlebury back, Erich Pfeffer closed out the third quarter with back-to-back scores, paring the deficit to 11-8 on a man-up goal with 2:45 left in the frame.

Cherney made sure Amherst started the final quarter strong with a score at 10:17, but Kerr quickly answered with a tally 1:07 later to again make it a three-goal affair. Englert continued to cut into Jeff lead with a score at 6:23 before Kerr found the net with 2:14 to go to bring Panthers within one, but the deficit proved too big to overcome with the Amherst defense stiffening down the stretch to preserve the 12-11 triumph.

Middlebury finished with a 51-33 shot advantage including a 16-4 edge during a furious fourth quarter rally. Jakimo was superb in net, making 14 second half saves, including seven in the final 15 minutes. Finishing with 22 stops, he nearly equaled his career-high of 25, set in last year’s NCAA second round match-up with the Panthers.

Nate Gaudio recorded nine saves for Middlebury, which also held a 34-22 edge in ground balls, while winning 14-of-15 face-offs.

Cherney finished with a hat-trick to lead the Amherst attack, while Redwood had six points on two goals and four assists. Acton and Routh chipped in with a pair of scores, while Duncan Morrissey picked up a team-high five ground balls.

Kerr led Middlebury with four goals, while Pfeffer had two tallies. Giordano, Cahill, Blockowicz, Ayers and Englert accounted for the Panthers other five goals.