MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Amherst College took a 2-0 lead in the second period, but the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point responded with six un-answered goals to help lift the Pointers to a 6-2 victory in Friday evening's NCAA Division III Frozen Four contest at Ridder Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
With the win Wisconsin-Stevens Point (23-6-1) advanced to its second straight NCAA title game and will take on Trinity College (24-3-1) which advanced to its first-ever championship contest with a 5-3 win over Adrian College in the other semifinal contest. Amherst concludes its superb season, 22-5-2 overall.
The first period saw Wisconsin-Stevens Point own a slim, 10-9 edge in shots on goal. Thomas Lindstrom '18 led Amherst with three attempts on net, as he and Mike Rowbotham '15 had great looks at putting in the game's first goal. Pointers' goalie Brandon Jaeger turned aside both shots and all nine Jeffs attempts in the first period, while Purple & White senior goalie Danny Vitale was equally solid through the first 20 minutes as he made 10 stops.
At the 3:42 mark of the second frame, Amherst broke the scoreless tie as Lindstrom fired a shot off the pad of Jaeger and Brendan Burke '16 was in position for the rebound as he drove in his sixth of the year. Lindstrom and Rowbotham notched the assists on the play. Less than a minute later, Logan Lemirande laced a shot on goal for Wisconsin-Stevens Point, but Vitale made an outstanding glove save to keep the Jeffs ahead, 1-0.
The Pointers continued to apply pressure on the Purple & White's net but Vitale fended off the surge with five critical saves. At the 8:15 mark, David White '18 added to the Amherst lead when he collected his 20th goal of the season. Topher Flanagan '16 and Andrew Fenwick '16 provided the assists on the goal to give the Jeffs a 2-0 advantage.
Just 33 seconds later, Wisconsin-Stevens Point answered with a goal by Alex Brooks. Nick D'Avolio and Kevin Gibson registered the assists. With just under seven minutes to play in the second session, Brooks delivered a drive from the center of the blue line but Vitale denied the shot. Conor Brown '16 responded for Amherst with a hard shot on goal but Jaeger was able to paddle it away.
With three minutes to play in the frame, the Pointers had a 2-on-1 breakaway as Joe Kalisz whipped a shot on goal, but Vitale was brilliant making a clutch kick-save and paddling the puck clear of the goal mouth to keep the 2-1 advantage heading into the second intermission.
"They took momentum from us partway through the second period," said head coach Jack Arena. "We really started holding on, and they just continued in the third. We just couldn't turn the tide or stop their momentum. We got beat by a better team."
Early in the third period, Amherst went on the power play and Jake Turrin '15 fired a shot on net but Jaeger caught the offering as the Pointers were able to kill off the penalty. At the 5:53 mark, D'Avolio deposited the equalizer following a feed from Andrew Kolb to set the score at 2-2. Less than two minutes later, Wisconsin-Stevens Point took the lead when Brooks potted a power play goal with assists from Kyle Brodie and Kyle Sharkey to make it 3-2.
After the Purple & White killed off a Pointers' power play, Wisconsin-Stevens Point continued to apply pressure as Sharkey put in a goal at the 11:14 mark with assists from Cornellier and Ladd to make it 4-2. At the 12:49 mark, Kalisz extended the lead to 5-2 with an unassisted marker. Cornellier then scored an empty-net goal at the 18:15 mark to set the final score at 6-2.
Vitale made 35 saves in the loss and completes the season with a 15-5-2 overall record. Lindstrom finished with seven shots on net to lead the Jeffs, while White added four.
"He's been spectacular all year," Arena said of Vitale. "They had a lot of pressure on us. In every game, you have breakdowns. The real good teams take advantage of the breakdowns. They certainly did tonight."
Kalisz fired seven shots on net, while Scott Henegar added five. Jaeger made 22 saves to seal the win for Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The Purple & White had seven seniors complete their collegiate careers following tonight's contest. Mike Cashman, Aaron Deutsch, Andrew Fenwick, Dan Merenich, Mike Rowbotham, Jake Turrin and Danny Vitale helped guide Amherst to one of the most successful seasons in program history. During their four years, the 2015 seniors became the winningest class in program history (77-24-8), won two NESCAC titles (2012, 2015), and garnered a pair of NCAA Division III Frozen Four appearances (2012, 2015).