AMHERST, Mass. – The Purple & White tallied three-unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes of play, as the Amherst College men's ice hockey team closed out the regular season with a 4-1 victory over Middlebury College Saturday afternoon at Orr Rink.
With the win, Amherst improves to 14-6-3 on the season and to 9-6-3 in league play, while Middlebury falls to 4-18-2 overall (3-15-0 NESCAC). Amherst awaits to learn its opponent for its NESCAC Championship Quarterfinal game that will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 at a time and location yet to be determined.
First to strike, junior David White netted his ninth score of the season 11:31 into the opening period to give the Purple & White a 1-0 lead. Up two skaters following back-to-back Middlebury penalties, Noah Gilreath '20 gathered the puck at the middle of the blueline to start the scoring play, sending a stick-to-stick pass to Patrick Daly '20 on the left dot. Dishing a cross-ice pass, Daly connected with White on the opposite dot who one-timed a low hard shot into the nylon.
Both sides saw opportunities in the final three minutes of the stanza, with Sunho Park making a bid to even the score with 2:16 on the clock. Racing into the zone on a 3-v-2, Park powered a slap shot on goal from inside the left circle, but Amherst keeper Adam Ellison '17 recorded the kick save.
Amherst responded two minutes later as White collected an indirect pass at center ice to earn a clear path towards net. Entering the offensive end on a breakaway, White deked to his backhand and sent a shot on target, however Brian Ketchabaw came up with the clutch glove save to keep the Panther deficit at one.
The Panthers threatened once again with time winding down, controlling momentum with 10 seconds remaining in the period. Nearly tallying the equalizer, Vincent Gisonti corralled a pass on the far post and tried to slide a shot over the goal line, but Ellison slid across the crease and got his pad on the shot and Gilreath blocked Travis Stephens's attempt on the rebound as the buzzer sounded.
Registering one of Amherst's best chances of the second period, Phil Johansson '19 tested Ketchabaw at the 9:23 mark as the Purple & White tried to take advantage of a 3-v-2. Rifling a shot on net from the top of the left circle, Ketchabaw proved up to the task, smothering Johansson's attempt.
In a close call for the Purple & White, Greg Conrad almost scored his fifth goal of the season with 2:24 to play, as he gathered a drop pass in the high slot and ripped a wrist shot on frame, but his attempt rang off the left post.
Knotting the score at 1-1 with 14:34 to play in regulation, Mitchell Allen notched his fifth goal of the season for the Panthers. Putting a shot on net from point-blank range, Joey Piccinini found his own rebound, skated around the net, and hit Allen with a pass on the post who redirected the puck over the goal line.
Retaking the lead 14 seconds later, Joey Lupo '20 teamed up with Jack Fitzgerald '19 to make it a 2-1 contest. Stealing the puck behind the goal on the forecheck, Lupo dished a pass to Fitzgerald in the low slot who quickly one-time a shot into the goal, short-side.
Extending Amherst's lead to 3-1 with 10:28 on the clock, Stanley Brenner '19 snuck behind the Panther defense, gathered a pass from Max Roche' 19 after a turnover at the blueline, and roofed a backhand shot into the netting.
Daly recorded the final dagger for the Purple & White at the 10:03 mark, skating the length of the ice and beating Ketchabaw glove side to help lift Amherst to the 4-1 victory.
- In goal, Ellison (4-0-0) made 20 saves for the Purple & White in the win, while Ketchabaw (0-4-0) racked up 44 stops for the Panthers in the losing effort.
- Amherst owned a dominative 48-21 edge in shot differential, including a 20-8 advantage in the third period.
- On the power play, Amherst finished 1-for-7, while Middlebury went 0-for-2.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Today's win marked Senior Day for the Purple & White who will graduate three seniors following the 2016-17 season, including: goalkeeper Adam Ellison, forward Chris Roll, and forward and defender Austin Ho.
- As a class, this year's seniors have compiled an overall mark of 62-31-12, a .648 winning percentage, with a 41-22-8 record against NESCAC opponents and a 38-4-6 record at home. During that time, Amherst has outscored opponents, 308-237 and has won two Little Three crowns, advanced to three-consecutive NESCAC Championship Finals, including a NESCAC title in 2015-16, and earned a trip to the NCAA Championship Frozen Four.