WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Despite a ferocious effort, the Purple & White were unable to respond to a two-goal second period by the Ephs, as the No. 5 seed Amherst College men's ice hockey team fell to archrival and No. 4 seed Williams College, 2-1 in NESCAC Championship Quarterfinal play Saturday afternoon at the Lansing-Chapman Ice Rink.
With the loss, Amherst falls to 14-7-3 on the season, while Williams improves to 14-8-3 overall. Williams advances to the NESCAC Semifinals and will take on third-seeded Trinity College, while Amherst, currently the sixth-ranked team in the East Region, awaits a potential at-large bid to the NCAA Championship.
First on the scoreboard, Tyler Granara '18 netted his second goal of the season, and first career playoff tally, 11:35 into the opening period to give Amherst a 1-0 lead. Patiently working the puck around the offensive zone, Granara capitalized on the Purple & White's first power play of the game, powering a low wrist shot from the left point through the legs of Eph goalkeeper Michael Pinios. Noah Gilreath '20 and David White '18 were awarded the assists on the play.
Roberto Cellini had one of Williams' best chances of the stanza with 1:53 on the clock, as he collected a drop pass from Frankie Mork at the top of the left circle and ripped a wrist shot on frame, but Connor Girard '18 made the glove save.
Knotting the score at 1-1, Marcus Mollica recorded the game-tying goal 3:57 into the second period. Dishing a pinpoint pass from the left hash mark, Tyler Young connected with Mollica at the top of the crease who redirected the puck past the Amherst netminder.
Responding less than a minute later, P.J. Conlon '20 nearly put the Purple & White back on top at the 4:45 mark. Racing down the right boards, captain Chris Roll '17 stickhandled around a defender and sent a centering pass to the crashing Conlon in the low slot, but Pinios smothered the attempt.
With the Ephs attacking the net with 12:58 on the clock, Girard stood tall for Amherst, registering the kick save on Colby Cretella shot from the right dot and stonewalling three follow-up attempts in the ensuing scrum.
The Ephs claimed a 2-1 lead on a contested play with 1:01 on the clock, as Luke Stickel was credited with his third score of the winter. Arguably using a high stick, Stickel deflected Young's shot from the blueline over the shoulder of Girard who was unable to stop the puck before it trickled over the goal line.
White made a bid to even the score with 11 seconds remaining before the second intermission, gathering a pass from Thomas Lindstrom '18 in the high slot and snapping a shot towards goal, but the attempt sailed just wide.
Almost extending Williams' lead to two in the third period, Cellini tested Girard at the 13:31 mark as he tried to sneak a shot past the goalkeeper from point-blank range, however Girard came up with an incredible stop on the shot.
Amherst's final attempt to send the contest into overtime came with 4:18 remaining in regulation, with Joey Lupo '20 stealing the puck behind the goal and putting a wrap around attempt on target, however Pinios recorded the pad save.
- In goal, Girard (8-7-3) made 26 stops for the Purple & White, while Pinios (9-7-3) racked up 22 saves for Williams in the winning effort.
- The Ephs owned a slight 28-23 edge in shot differential in the matchup.
- Up a skater, Amherst finished 1-for-3, while Williams went 0-for-6 on the power play.