HARTFORD, Conn. – First-year John Festa tallied two scores, his first and second goal of the season, to help lift the sixth-seeded Amherst College men's ice hockey team to a hard fought 4-2 victory over fifth-seeded Middlebury College in Saturday afternoon's NESCAC Semifinal tilt at second-seeded Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
With the win, Amherst advances to the NESCAC championship contest and will take on the winner of the Tufts/Trinity matchup tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in Hartford, Conn.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Purple & White used a balanced attack to advance past the Panthers, notching a goal in both the first and second period in addition to two scores in the third.
- Amherst went 1-for-2 on power play opportunities in the matchup, while Middlebury went 0-for-3.
- The Panthers held a slight edge in shots on goal, 28-24.
- Sophomore Connor Girard (4-7-0) racked up 26 saves in the winning effort, while Liam Moorfield-Yee (3-5-5) registered 20 saves in between the pipes for the Panthers.
- Amherst was first to strike as Festa gave the Purple & White a 1-0 lead at the 8:48 mark in the opening period. The score marked the first of his collegiate career.
- Capitalizing on Amherst second power-play opportunity of the outing was Thomas Lindstrom '18, as he collected a pass from Topher Flanagan '16 with six minutes to play in the second stanza and rifled a shot past Moorfield-Yee.
- Patrick Arena '16 gave the Purple & White a three-goal cushion 4:22 into the final period of action. Positioning himself in front on Brendan Burke's '16 shot, Arena batted the puck out of the air and over the glove on the Panther netminder for his fourth score of the season.
- Middlebury decreased its deficit to two seven minutes later as Mike Najjar collected a pass from Brendan McGovern and sent a shot from the left faceoff dot over the shoulder of Girard.
- The Purple & White regained a three-goal lead with 3:15 to play in regulation. Intercepting a breakout pass at mid-ice, Festa tallied his second goal of the game as he sent a shot from just behind the red line into an open net.
- Max Greenwald made it a 4-2 contest with 52.5 seconds remaining, poking the puck over the goal line in a great individual effort.
- Arena and Conor Brown '16 led the Purple & White with three shots on target apiece, while Middlebury's Greenwald led all skaters with five shots on frame.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- With the win, Amherst advances to its third consecutive NESCAC Championship game. Taking the league crown a season ago, the Purple & White enter tomorrow's contest in search of its third conference title in the last five years.
- Amherst will take on the winner of the No. 8 Tufts/No. 2 Trinity matchup in the championship game tomorrow, Sunday, March 6 at 2 p.m. at the Koeppel Center.