AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women's ice hockey team begins its quest for the program's third consecutive NESCAC title when the top-seeded Lord Jeffs host eighth-seeded Hamilton College Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game.
Fans unable to make it to Saturday's game will be able to follow all of the action via a live webcast with audio and video feeds available. Tickets for the game will be $3 for adults and $1 for students and children. Doors to Orr Rink will open at 5:30 p.m.
Amherst (19-4-0, 16-0-0 NESCAC) locked up the number-one seed over a week ago, as a 5-0 win over Middlebury on Saturday, Feb. 14 guaranteed the Jeffs the top seed for the first time in tournament history. Amherst also achieved a feat that only one team, Middlebury, had been able to accomplish before—finishing the conference slate a perfect 16-0-0. The Jeffs did this with a pair of wins against Connecticut College over the weekend, 6-0 in New London on Saturday and 1-0 at home on Sunday afternoon.
The Continentals (9-13-2, 3-11-2 NESCAC) enter the tournament looking to get back into the win column after dropping a pair of 4-1 road losses at Williams and Middlebury this past weekend. After going unbeaten over a six-game stretch midway through January, Hamilton fell in its final six conference contests, with the lone win for the Continentals in February coming at Utica in overtime, 4-3. In conference play this season, Amherst won the initial match 6-2 on Jan. 9 at home before posting a 6-1 victory at Hamilton on Jan. 31.
Since dropping three of five games to kick off the New Year, Amherst has won 11 of its last 12 and is riding a six-game winning streak, with four of the last five victories coming in shutout fashion. One more victory for the Lord Jeffs would tie the program record for wins in a season (20), which they accomplished in each of the last two years. Amherst is also looking to continue its 48-game unbeaten streak against NESCAC opponents, as the Jeffs are 41-0-7 since their 1-0 loss to Middlebury on Dec. 2, 2006.
Amherst has been nationally ranked as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 7 this season, but they enter the NESCAC Championship tied with Elmira at the No. 4 spot. The Jeffs' 1.35 goals-allowed-per-game average and 89.6 penalty kill percentage are both tops in the conference and sixth in Division III, while they rank second in the NESCAC and are among the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense (3.57 gpg) and power play percentage (20.0).
Two-time All-America selection Krystyn Elek has once again established herself as the best goaltender in the NESCAC, as she leads the conference in goals-against average (1.33) and save percentage (.944) with an 11-3-0 record. Elek picked up three wins last week—including a key non-conference victory over Elmira—while posting a 0.98 GAA and .961 save percentage.
Sophomore Courtney Hanlon is leading the Jeffs in scoring for the second consecutive season with 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points, and she has been joined on the attack by seniors Lindsey Harrington and Tarasai Karega. Harrington's 19 points leave her six shy of 100 for her career, as she enters the conference tournament with 47 goals and 47 assists. Karega reached the 100-point mark during a 4-3 win over Elmira when she assisted on the game-winner in overtime.
This will be the third first-round meeting between the Jeffs and Continentals. Hamilton took the previous two, each by a 6-1 margin, in 2004 and again in 2005. This is the first year the NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship features eight teams, as Hamilton will be looking to become the first No. 8 seed to upset the top seed, while Amherst will be looking to become the first team to win three consecutive titles.
2009 NESCAC WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 28
No. 7 Williams at No. 2 Middlebury - 1 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Colby - 4 p.m.
No. 6 Connecticut College at No. 3 Trinity - 4:30 p.m.
No. 8 Hamilton at No. 1 Amherst - 7 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, Mar. 7
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 1 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, Mar. 8
Semifinal winners - 2 p.m.