AMHERST, MA – The 2nd-ranked Amherst College women's hockey team wrapped up the 2009-10 regular season this evening with a 3-1 win over Norwich University in non-conference action at Orr Rink. Amherst has already earned the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship, and will carry a six-game win streak into next Saturday's 1 p.m. Quarterfinal against Colby at home. The result improves Amherst's record to 18-2-4 (12-1-3 NESCAC) and drops Norwich to 14-5-5 (13-3-3 ECAC East).
Just over one minute into the game a Norwich player was sent into the penalty box and the nation's fifth-ranked power play unit wasted no time putting Amherst up 1-0. Just before the power play expired, sophomore Stephanie Clegg (Woburn, MA) dove to reach for a loose puck and wrapped a shot around Norwich goaltender Cindy Fortin. Assists on the game's opening score came from junior Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) and senior tri-captain Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO).
With seven and a half minutes remaining in the first period Norwich tied the game at 1-1 on an individual effort from Sarah Scardino. After crossing the Amherst blue line with a head of steam, Scardino slowed at the left point and lashed a wrist shot past the glove side of Amherst netminder Caroline Hu (Cerritos, CA). The score snapped a 231:43 personal shutout streak for Hu, who entered the night leading the nation in goals-against average (0.91).
Amherst needed just 1:54 to regain the lead at 2-1. The go-ahead goal, and eventual game-winner, came off the stick of junior Megan Curry (Shorewood, MN) on helpers from Dennett and Hanlon 14:26 into the stanza.
The second period came and went without either team scoring another goal, as the two goaltenders needed to make just six saves apiece. Each team had a single penalty in the middle stanza, but neither power play unit could break through for the game's fourth score.
Amherst took a 3-1 lead 5:12 into the third period as Dennett dished out her third assist of the night on the power play. Dennett dropped a pass down to Hanlon in the left circle, and the Amherst leading goal-scorer turned and lifted her 13th goal of the year off the bottom of the crossbar and in. A second assist on the goal went to Randi Zukas (Glen Head, NY).
With just 2:01 to play in the third, Zukas was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking and Norwich pulled Fortin to finish the game playing 6-on-4 hockey. The Amherst defense held up despite a number of shots from close range in the final minutes, closing out a 3-1 win.
Hu made 17 saves in the win, improving her record to 11-1-1 on the year. Fortin's mark dropped to 5-5-5 for the season after the Cadet backstop made 21 saves this evening. Dennett's three assists give her 98 career points, as she is closing in becoming only the fifth player in program history to record 100 points.