PLATTSBURGH, NY – The Amherst College women's hockey team's incredible season came to an end Saturday afternoon, as the Lord Jeffs fell in overtime of the National Consolation game to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The Jeffs came back from a 3-1 deficit to send the game into a fourth frame, but the Pointers netted a short-handed goal to pick up the 4-3 win and third-place tournament finish.
Amherst got into some early trouble by picking up a two-minute penalty for shoving a Wisconsin player to the ice near the Jeffs' net, resulting in a quick power-play goal from the Pointers, who increased their lead to 2-0 less than 30 seconds later when they snuck a shot past senior goaltender Lindsay Grabowski (Princeton, NJ).
The Jeffs were given a power-play opportunity midway through the first period, but were unable to put a tally on the scoreboard. The Pointers nearly increased their lead to three goals when they had a breakaway with two minutes remaining in the frame, but Grabowski came up with a big save to keep the Jeffs within striking distance. UW-SP picked up two quick penalties in the final minute of the opening frame to give Amherst a 5-on-3 opportunity, but the Jeffs could not capitalize before the first intermission.
With time still remaining on their power play, the Jeffs came out of the locker room determined to at least cut the deficit to one goal, but the Pointers once again held off the attack and responded with a 5-on-4 opportunity of their own. In a strange turn of events, however, junior Megan Quinn (Wakefield, MA) was credited with an unassisted short-handed goal when the UW-SP defense suffered a significant defensive miscue, accidentally sneaking the puck past its senior goaltender Amy Statz. After a short discussion with the game official, the referee signaled that the puck did in fact cross the line, and that the last Amherst player to touch the puck was Quinn.
After killing a UW-SP power play, Amherst had a serious lapse on defense that resulted in the Pointers' third goal of the afternoon, forcing head coach Jim Plumer to make a change on defense by substituting first-year Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC) for Grabowski.
With only 24 seconds remaining in the second frame, sophomore Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI) let loose a ferocious slap shot from point-blank range, leaving Statz with little to do in defense. The slap shot rocketed to the back of the net, allowing the Lord Jeffs to head into the locker room with just a one-goal deficit with time running out on the season.
Karega wasted no time in the third period showing the Pointers why she is Amherst's leading scorer, as the sophomore used her incredible speed to tie the game at 3-3 and pick up her 20th goal of the season. Neither defense cracked for the rest of the period, even when UW-SP came up with a great scoring opportunity with four-and-a-half minutes in regulation, forcing Elek to make another huge save. The third period ended with the teams notched at three goals apiece, sending the game into a five-minute overtime session.
Amherst returned to the ice knowing that it had plenty of overtime experience under its belt, having skated through the NESCAC Championship Tournament by picking up three overtime victories after playing in four overtime games in the regular season.
After both teams picked up a penalty to create a 4-on-4 situation, the Pointers picked up a second penalty with 1:57 remaining in the extra frame, giving Amherst a 4-on-3 power-play opportunity and forcing UW-SP head coach Ann Ninnemann to call a timeout.
Nicole Grossmann did not let Amherst take advantage of its power play, as she quickly turned the game around by skating in for a short-handed goal to give the Pointers a 4-3 win and third-place finish in the national tournament.
Statz finished with 24 saves for UW-SP, while Elek and Grabowski stopped 32 shots in a joint effort.
Karega was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team for totaling an assist and three goals in the Jeffs' three games.
Along with Grabowski, five Amherst seniors played in their final collegiate game: tri-captains Alena Harrison (Westwood, MA), Tes Siarnacki (Gardner, MA) and Kirsten Forsberg (Kenilworth, IL), Meg Dickoff (Minnetonka, MN) and Rachel Simon (West Orange, NJ). The class of 2007 has been a tremendous group of leaders for the very talented younger players, who owe much of their early success to the attitude exemplified by the seniors.
Amherst finishes the 2006-07 season with an impressive 20-7-3 record and several accolades and program firsts under its belt.