AMHERST, MA – Playing in its fifth game in nine days, the top-ranked Amherst College women's ice hockey team wrapped up a difficult stretch with a 3-3 tie against Hamilton College Saturday afternoon at Orr Rink. The Lord Jeffs held a commanding 50-22 edge in shots on goal, but the visiting Continentals put in a gutsy performance and tied the game on three separate occasions.
After only one goal was scored in the first 34 minutes and 58 seconds, the teams closed out a thrilling second period by combining to score four times in a span of four minutes. Hamilton managed to tie the game at 1-1 and 2-2, but the Jeffs were able to quickly regroup and regain the lead each time to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. The Continentals would tie things up once again 2:13 into the third period, marking the final goal of the contest.
Amherst moved to 11-1-4 overall and 7-0-3 in NESCAC play, maintaining a slim lead over Trinity College for first place in the conference standings. Hamilton rebounded nicely from Friday's 5-0 setback to Amherst and moved to 5-7-3 (2-5-3 NESCAC) on the season.
The Jeffs added to several streaks with the tie, as they are unbeaten in their past 52 regular season conference games, their past 11 meetings with Hamilton and their past nine home contests. Amherst is also tied for the second longest active unbeaten streak in Division III (5-0-2).
Amherst had out-scored opponents by a 23-4 margin during the six-game unbeaten streak it carried into Saturday's game, but Hamilton became only the second team to score at least three goals against the Jeffs this season. First-year Katie Zimmerman had a hand in each of the Continentals' goals, scoring twice and adding an assist for a standout performance.
Also standing out for Hamilton was first-year Rebecca Hazlett, who entered the game as one of the elite goaltenders in Division III. Hazlett stopped 47 shots on the day, including 23 in the first period, to move to 4-5-2 on the year. First-year Abby Runyon scored Hamilton's second goal and assisted on the third.
In net for Amherst was sophomore Sinead Murphy (Rochester, MN), who began the day leading Division III in goals-against average (0.70) with the second highest save percentage (.951). Murphy made 19 saves for the Jeffs to move to 5-0-3 on the season and 7-0-3 for her career.
Three Amherst players continued their hot streaks, as junior tri-captain Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA), sophomore Stephanie Clegg (Woburn, MA) and first-year Geneva Lloyd (Calgary, Alberta) once again factored into the scoring. Clegg had a goal and an assist, with Hanlon and Lloyd each contributing an assist. Senior tri-captain Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) also played well with a goal and an assist, while sophomore Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT) rounded out the Jeffs' goal scorers on the day.
During Amherst's current seven-game unbeaten streak, Hanlon has been unstoppable with seven goals and three helpers. In three games this week, she combined for four goals and an assist to lead the Jeffs to a 2-0-1 record. Clegg has chipped in with four goals and four helpers in the past seven games, with Lloyd recording an assist in six of the past seven.
Hamilton went 0-for-2 on the power play in the opening period thanks to Hanlon and Dennett leading an outstanding penalty kill unit for Amherst. The Jeffs went on their first 5-on-4 opportunity with six minutes to play and were soon handed a two-skater advantage, as a pair of Continental penalties led to Amherst's first goal. Vitale poked the puck past Hazlett to make it a 1-0 game, with assists going to juniors Julia Koch (Rochester Hills, MI) and Megan Curry (Shorewood, MN). The Jeffs out-shot the Continentals in the opening period, 24-5.
Amherst had several good scoring chances early in the second period, but the game's second goal would not come until the 15:49 mark. Hamilton called a timeout with 51 seconds remaining on a power play after an Amherst tripping penalty, leading to Zimmerman's first goal. Junior Christie Sharlow recorded the assist—her eighth of the season—to tie things up at 1-1.
It took Amherst less than three minutes to regain the lead with a power play goal. After Hazlett managed to knock down the puck after Clegg redirected a shot from Lloyd, Dennett was there to clean up and make it a 2-1 game with 1:27 to play in the frame.
The visitors stormed right back with another tying goal with only 48.7 seconds remaining in the second period. An initial shot by Zimmerman was saved by Murphy, but Runyon was there to put home the loose puck for her third goal of the season. The Continentals' second goal marked the first time all season Murphy had allowed more than one goal in a game.
The second-period scoring was not done there, however, as Amherst once again regained the lead with only 12.1 seconds showing on the clock. Hanlon sent a pass to Dennett, who found Clegg open on the right wing. Clegg drilled a one-timer past Hazlett to make it a 3-2 game, as the Jeffs held a 16-6 advantage in shots in the second frame.
It didn't take long for the scoring to resume, as Hamilton found the equalizer for a third time when Zimmerman beat Murphy just 2:13 into the third period. Hanlon would rattle the post late in the third period and each team had solid opportunities on the power play, but neither side would score again. The Continentals held an 11-9 edge in shots in the third period.
The overtime session featured only a single shot by Amherst, as Hamilton hung on for the impressive tie and Amherst concluded an exhausting week. The Lord Jeffs will return to action Friday, Jan. 29, when they take on Colby College at 7 p.m., while the Continentals will next host Utica on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.