AMHERST, MA – The 5th-ranked Amherst College women's ice hockey team completed just the second perfect season in NESCAC history with a 1-0 win over Connecticut College this afternoon at Orr Rink. The victory closed out the regular season, with Amherst finishing atop the conference standings at 16-0-0 (19-4-0 overall).
The perfect regular season is Amherst's second straight undefeated NESCAC run, after having finished last year with a 12-0-4 mark against conference opposition. Middlebury College posted the only other perfect conference season in 2001-02, the first year of the NESCAC for women's hockey.With the win over the Camels, Amherst improved to 41-0-7 in its last 48 games against NESCAC opponents.
In a stark comparison to yesterday's first period between these two teams, Amherst got off to a slow start. The Lord Jeffs were forced to kill off a pair of first-period penalties, before ending the frame on the power play. The Lord Jeffs and Camels ended the stanza deadlocked at 0-0, but Amherst would start the second period with 0:25 seconds on the extra-man session. In the frame, Amherst goaltender Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC) and Sara Christopher, her Conn counterpart, each made 10 saves in the first period.
Early in the second period, Amherst points-leader Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) was whistled for interference. Amherst killed off the penalty without incident, and just seconds after coming out of the box, Hanlon broke free for a 1-on-1 against a Camel defender. Hanlon held off the defender, and flicked a nice backhanded shot past Christopher, but off the crossbar.
Midway through the second period, Amherst senior tri-captain Lindsey Harrington (Westford, MA) came to life in the offensive zone. She took a feed from a teammate and poked a one-timer past Christopher, but across the goal mouth. Seconds later, Christopher held onto another Harrington bid, leading to a face-off.
Hanlon had a nice move from behind the Conn net on the power play, putting the puck between a Conn player's legs, before sliding a backhanded shot under Christopher and wide of the far post.
With just under five minutes to play in the second period, Harrington broke free for a breakaway chance. She faked twice before putting a shot just wide of the top corner.
Despite out-shooting Conn 11-7 in the period, Amherst was unable to break the scoreless tie.
With seven minutes to play in the third period, Amherst junior Michelle McGann (New Berlin, WI) was unable to connect on a nice feed from Harrington. Just moments later, Conn's Celia Medeiros broke down the left wing for a shot on Elek. The Lord Jeff net-minder turned away the shot with her right shoulder.
With 4:52 to play in regulation, Amherst finally broke the tie as McGann put a shot past Christopher from close range. Assists on the eventual game-winner went to junior Alyssa Chwick (Rye Brook, NY) and sophomore Randi Zukas (Glen Head, NY).
The McGann score turned out to be the only goal of the day, as Amherst skated to the 1-0 win. Elek finished the night with 22 saves for her second straight shutout win, while Christopher made 32 saves in the loss.
Amherst will play host to Hamilton next Saturday in NESCAC Quarterfinal play, with a game-time still to be set.