AMHERST, Mass. – The Mammoths never relinquished their early lead in Sunday's Senior Day matchup, as the Amherst College women's hockey team closed out the regular season with a 2-1 win over Little III rival Wesleyan University at Orr Rink.
With the win, Amherst improves to 12-10-2 on the season and to 8-6-2 in league play, while Wesleyan falls to 8-15-1 overall (4-11-1 NESCAC). Clinching the No. 5 seed, Amherst returns to the ice next Saturday, February 23, when they travel to No. 4 Trinity for a NESCAC Championship Quarterfinals battle.
Threatening midway through the opening period, Jocelyn Hunyadi '19 intercepted a breakout pass at the offensive blue line and dished a pass to Kaitlin Hoang '21 to give the Mammoths a breakaway, however Allegra Grant stood strong in net for Wesleyan and poked the puck away as Hoang deked to her forehand.
Getting on the board with 8:24 on the clock, Jamie McNamara '19 potted her fifth goal of the winter with assists from Katelyn Pantera '19 and Stephanie Nomicos '22 to put the home team ahead. Grant did her best to keep the game scoreless, making back-to-back on saves on shots by Pantera, however McNamara beat her defender to the far post to push the puck over the goal line.
Grant continued her clutch play in goal in the second, stonewalling Angelina Wiater's '22 wrister on a breakaway at the 4:31 mark to keep the Cardinals deficit at 1-0.
On the power play, Alicia Nickolenko had a solid bid to get the visitors on the board with 11:03 on the clock, however her one-timer from the right dot was met with a shoulder save.
Doubling the Mammoths advantage with 12 minutes to play before the second intermission, Emma Flynn '21 sent her own rebound through the legs of the Cardinals' keeper to tally her sixth goal of the year. Katie Savage '19 and Pantera were credited with the assists on the play.
Avoiding the shut out, Cali Stevens cut the Cardinals' deficit to 2-1 four minutes into the third period with an assist from Alicia Nickolenko. Racing towards net on a 2-v-1, Nickolenko's shot from the top of the left circle was met with a kick save, however Stevens was there on the far post to put the rebound away.
Aiming to net the equalizer, the Cardinals looked to pull their keeper late, however Amherst was able to keep the puck in the offensive end through the final minute of play to clinch the 2-1 victory.
In between the pipes, Anna Kruesel '22 (3-3-0) registered 19 saves for Amherst in the winning effort, while Grant (6-12-1) made 52 stops for Wesleyan in the loss.
The Mammoths owned a 54-20 advantage in shots on frame and finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Cardinals went 0-for-2 up a skater.
Today's game marked Senior Day for the Mammoths who will graduate seven seniors following the 2018-19 season, including: forward Katie Savage, forward Sarah Wagner, forward/defender Laura Schmidlein, forward Katelyn Pantera, forward and captain Jamie McNamara, defender Miriam Eickhoff, and forward Jocelyn Hunyadi. As a class, this year's seniors have compiled an overall mark of 63-28-14 to own a .667 winning percentage, with a 35-16-12 record against NESCAC opponents and an impressive 29-10-9 ledger at home. During that time, the Mammoths have outscored opponents 303 to 170, advanced to three straight NESCAC Championship Finals, and made a trip to the NCAA Championship.