ELMIRA, NY – The top-ranked Amherst College women's ice hockey team held a 30-15 advantage in shots and overcame a 1-0 deficit to earn a 3-1 win over second-ranked Elmira College Wednesday evening. The Lord Jeffs avenged their only loss of the season to improve to 10-1-3, while the Soaring Eagles dropped to 11-4-1.
Tri-captain Courtney Hanlon '11 (Fullerton, CA) scored two goals and Sinead Murphy '12 (Rochester, MN) made 14 saves to lead Amherst to victory. Hanlon's first goal tied things up at 1-1 late in the second period, while her second—an empty netter—sealed the deal in the final seconds of regulation.
Senior tri-captain Kirsten Dier (Appleton, WI) had missed three consecutive games due to an injury, but the Amherst defenseman returned to action by scoring the eventual game winner in the 18th minute of the second period. Dier and Hanlon each have 11 points on the season.
Murphy, who entered the game leading Division III in goals-against average (0.65) with the second highest save percentage (.955), improved to 5-0-2 on the season and 7-0-2 for her career.
Elmira earned a 2-1 win over Amherst on Jan. 4 in the Panther/Cardinal Classic championship game, marking the Jeffs' lone loss of the season. The lower ranked team had won each of the past five meetings in this rivalry, a streak that Elmira seemed poised to continue by taking a 1-0 lead 4:35 into the second period, but Amherst scored three unanswered goals to knot the all-time series at four wins apiece.
Wednesday's game marked Amherst's ninth encounter with a team currently ranked in the USCHO.com top six, but the Jeffs continued to roll through their difficult schedule by improving to 5-1-3 against ranked teams and 4-1-1 in non-conference games. In nine games against ranked opponents, Amherst has allowed only 11 goals.
Elmira, which was playing its sixth consecutive game against a nationally ranked opponent, had its seven-game unbeaten streak come to a halt.
Amherst entered the game as one of the most disciplined teams in Division III, serving an average of only 8.00 penalty minutes per game. After committing only one penalty in the first 57:43 against Elmira, the Jeffs were whistled for a pair of two-minute infractions late in the third period, but the Soaring Eagles went 0-for-3 on the power play.
The Lord Jeffs failed to convert both power play opportunities they earned in the opening period. Elmira recorded only one shot attempt in the first session, while Amherst tallied six shots. First-year goalie Lauren Sullivan had an impressive first period, stopping all six Amherst shots.
Elmira struck first at the 4:35 mark of the second period with an unassisted breakaway goal from first-year forward Jill DeBus, who beat Murphy with a backhanded shot that found its way through the Amherst goalie's legs. Hanlon converted a power play opportunity into a goal at the 15:22 mark of the session, with the assist going to first-year Geneva Lloyd (Calgary, Alberta). Just two minutes later Dier would put Amherst up 2-1 in the contest with a goal set up by Ellen Swiontkowski '12 (Minnetonka, MN) and Michelle McGann '10 (New Berlin, WI).
Elmira had a 6-on-3 skater advantage for the last 40 seconds of the third period, but Amherst withstood a flurry of shots and added a shorthanded score with two seconds left on the clock. Sullivan played an outstanding game in goal for the Soaring Eagles with 27 saves during her 58:56 between the pipes.
The Lord Jeffs will return to action Friday, Jan. 22, when they host Hamilton College at 7 p.m. The Jeffs will host the Continentals again Saturday at 3 p.m., with a live webcast available for each contest. Amherst is 42-0-8 in regular season NESCAC games dating back to December of 2006.