Jeffs Skate Past Hamilton, 3-1

Jeffs Skate Past Hamilton, 3-1

AMHERST, Mass. – The No. 12/11 Amherst College men's hockey team used a goal and an assist from senior co-captain Mike Rowbotham, and the Jeffs scored a goal in each period to help spark the Purple & White to a 3-1 victory over Hamilton College in Friday evening's NESCAC contest at Orr Rink.

With the win, Amherst, ranked 12th in the latest USCHO.com Top 15 Coaches Poll and 11th in the latest D3hockey.com Top 15 Coaches Poll, improves to 11-3-2 overall, 7-3-0 in NESCAC play. Hamilton moves to 5-6-4 on the season, 4-4-2 in league action.

In a back-and-forth first period that saw Amherst edge Hamilton in shots, 12-7, the Jeffs drew first blood when Xavier Louis Reed '16 fired a shot that was turned aside by Continentals' goaltender Evan Buitenhuis. Andrew Fenwick '15 collected the loose puck, tapped it Dan Merenich '15 who finished with his fifth goal of the season to give Amherst a 1-0 lead at the 16:46 mark of the first period.

Playing with a one-goal lead in the second period, the Purple & White again outshot Hamilton, 11-7 in the second frame in another tightly contested stanza. Conor Brown '16 set up Amherst's second goal with a beautiful pass just outside Hamilton's crease to David White '18 who then fed a charging Rowbotham who deposited the puck in the back of the net for his sixth marker of the season to give the Jeffs a 2-0 lead with just 22 seconds remaining before the second intermission.

In the third period, the Continentals answered with heavy pressure on the Amherst defensive zone, and at the 13:56 mark, Brad Smelstor delivered a blast from just inside the blue line into the far left corner of the net past Jeffs' goalie Danny Vitale '15 to set the score at 2-1. Bennett Hambrook and Seamus O'Neill assisted on the goal for Hamilton.

The Continentals continued to apply pressure in search of an equalizer, but Vitale was able to fend off the Hamilton attack. With 1:31 to play, Hamilton pulled Buitenhuis in favor of an extra attacker, but good defensive awareness by Amherst led to a clearance by Theo Hannah '16, who sent the puck to Rowbotham, who then dished to Brendan Burke '16 who tapped it in for an empty-net goal, his third goal of the 2014-15 campaign, with just seven seconds left to secure the 3-1 victory.

Aaron Deutsch '15 led all players with six shots on target, while Burke added four in the winning effort. Marko Brelih led Hamilton with five shots on goal.

Vitale (4-2-2) notched the win between the pipes, making 24 stops, including 10 in the final frame, while Buitenhuis (1-1-1) made 28 saves, highlighted by 11 in the first stanza.

Amherst returns to NESCAC action on Friday, Jan. 30 when it hosts Trinity College at 7 p.m. at Orr Rink.