AMHERST, Mass. – Potting the game-winner with 2:57 on the clock, senior Phil Johansson played hero for the Mammoths in overtime as the Amherst College men's ice hockey team edged No. 14 and archrival Williams College in dramatic fashion, 4-3 Friday evening at Orr Rink.
With the win, Amherst improves to 12-6-4 on the season and to 9-4-4 in league play, while Williams falls to 14-7-2 overall (10-5-2 NESCAC). Amherst returns to the ice to tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 16 when they host Middlebury in their regular season finale on Senior Day. Puck is set to drop at 3 p.m.
Needing just 3:16 to get on the board, Amherst opened up scoring with a goal by Stephen Rex '22 to take an early lead. With an assist from Sean Wrenn '22, Rex split the defense before sniping a wrist shot from the left dot over the glove of the Ephs' keeper.
Doubling the home team's advantage four minutes later, Wrenn and Rex teamed up once again at the 7:37 mark. Winning the scrum along the left boards for the puck, Rex dished a pass to Wrenn at the point who powered a wrister off of two defenders and into the top corner.
Williams' best chance of the opening period came with 5:30 on the clock, as Wyatt Glover used his speed to beat his defender and give the Ephs a 2-v-0, however Tyler Scotton was unable to put home Glover's pass to the far left post.
Cutting the Ephs' deficit to one 4:38 into the second period, Niko Karamanis tallied his fourth goal of the season. Racing out of the left corner, Glover's shot from the bottom of the circle was tipped by Karamanis past the goalie.
Responding 1:09 later, the Mammoths made it 3-1 behind Rex's second score of the contest. Working the puck to A.J. Klein '20 at the right point, Klein's wrister toward target was deflected by Rex into the bottom left corner.
Finding the back of the net at the 12:26 mark, Nick VanBelle brought Williams back within one with assists from Roberto Cellini and Marcus Mollica. Beating the Amherst netminder six seconds after an Amherst interference penalty expired, VanBelle's shot from the goal line on the right side ricocheted off the stick of his defender and up and over the keeper.
Deadlocking the matchup at three all with 1:31 to play before the second intermission, Jack McCool notched his seventh goal of the winter with an unassisted effort as he intercepted a breakout pass at the blue line and snuck a snap shot five-hole.
After a scoreless third stanza, each keeper made highlight reel stops in the opening two minutes of overtime to keep the crowd on their toes, but it was Johansson who came through in the clutch for the Mammoths, ripping a wrister from the high slot into the top left corner to lift Amherst to the 4-3 OT victory.
In between the pipes, Michael Cullen '21 made 15 stops in 40 minutes of action, while Giancarlo Ventre '20 (5-3-3) registered 10 saves in 22:03 in relief to earn the win for Amherst. Michael Pinios (13-6-1) recorded 26 stops for Williams in the losing effort.
The Mammoths owned a 30-28 edge in shots on frame and finished 0-for-1 on the power play, while the Ephs went 0-for-3 up a skater.