Contact: Matthew Hart
AMHERST, Mass. – Forwards Megan Doyen '13 and Courtney Baranek '14 scored a pair of goals each to lead the third-seeded Amherst College women's hockey team to a 5-1 win over sixth-seeded Hamilton College in the NESCAC quarterfinals Saturday at Orr Rink.
The Jeffs (13-10-1) advance to the NESCAC semifinals where they will meet second-seeded Bowdoin on Saturday, March 2, after the Polar Bears defeated Williams, 5-3, in quarterfinal action. Top-seeded Middlebury will host the remainder of the conference playoffs after crushing Colby, 6-0. The Panthers will meet fifth-seeded Connecticut College, which notched a 1-0 upset of fourth-seeded Trinity in the fourth quarterfinal.
Amherst controlled from the start on Saturday, grabbing a 3-0 lead midway through the second on an unassisted strike from Geneva Lloyd '13. Katie Zimmerman '13 brought the Continentals within two, netting her league-best 21st goal of the season seven minutes into the third period, but Doyen and Baranek iced the win for Amherst with their second tallies of the day in the final three-plus minutes. Kaitlyn McInnis '13 dished out a pair of assists for the Jeffs while Kerri Stuart '14 made 18 saves during a strong effort in net.
Amherst wasted little time grabbing an early lead as Doyen put the hosts up 1-0 just under four minutes into the first period. Winning a scrum in front of the net, the senior finished from the left post with assists going to McInnis and Eileen Harris '16. The Jeffs struck again just three and a half minutes later, with Baranek coming out of another melee in the middle to find the back of the net on assists from Tori Salmon '15 and Madeline Tank '15.
After an 8-2 shot advantage in the opening frame, Amherst continued to control play early in the second. Hamilton began to generate offense five minutes into the frame, but several strong saves from Stuart kept the guests off the board.
After coming up empty on a power play, the Jeffs continued to push near the midway point of the period and Lloyd padded the Amherst lead nine minutes into the frame, collecting a loose puck near the Hamilton blue line and weaving through the Continental defense with some slick stick-work before sending in a laser from the slot for an unassisted tally and a 3-0 Jeff lead.
Stuart kept up her strong work for the remainder of the frame, totaling nine saves in the second as Amherst killed Hamilton's first power play attempt late in the period. The Jeff defense continued to hold early in the third, stopping another Continental one-up as Stuart turned in a nice save off a Nikki Haskins '14 blast from the slot.
Hamilton finally broke through just over seven minutes into the final period when Zimmerman corralled a loose puck above the left circle and sliced into the slot, beating first a defender then Stuart as she finished to the lower left corner and brought Hamilton within striking distance at 3-1.
Doyen made it comfortable again for Amherst with just over three minutes to go, netting her second of the game from close range after McInnis found her in front of the net from the left corner. With Hamilton going on the power play and pulling goalie Becca Hazlett '13 in the final 90 seconds, Baranek scored a short-handed empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining to punctuate the Amherst victory.
The Jeffs finished with a 26-19 advantage in shots as neither team could cash in on its three power play opportunities. Hazlett finished with 21 saves for the Continentals, who end their season at 13-11-1, tied for the highest win total in program history.
After Bowdoin swept the closing regular-season doubleheader from Amherst, the Jeffs will be eager for a shot at redemption as they play for a trip to their seventh consecutive NESCAC title game.
2013 NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship
Quarterfinals – Saturday, February 23 (at Higher Seeds)
#1 Middlebury 6, #8 Colby 0
#2 Bowdoin 5, #7 Williams 3
#3 Amherst 5, #6 Hamilton 1
#5 Connecticut College 1, #4 Trinity 0
Semifinals – Saturday, March 2 (at Middlebury)
#1 Middlebury vs. #5 Connecticut College, 1 p.m.
#2 Bowdoin vs. #3 Amherst, 4 p.m.
Championship – Sunday, March 3