Amherst Advances Past Bowdoin With 3-2 OT Win in NESCAC Semis

AMHERST, MA – The top-seeded Amherst College women's hockey team kicked off the final weekend of the 2010 NESCAC Championship this afternoon taking on No. 5 Bowdoin College at Orr Rink in Amherst, Mass. The Lord Jeffs rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, and then got the game-winner from rookie Geneva Lloyd (Calgary, Alberta) late in the extra session to advance 3-2.

Today's game was the third meeting of the season between Amherst and Bowdoin, with all three games being played at home for the Lord Jeffs. Just one month ago, Amherst rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Bowdoin 3-2, before earning a 5-0 win the following afternoon.

The first scoring chance of the game came from Bowdoin with 11 minutes remaining in the first period. After a long slap shot from the point flew wide of Amherst goaltender Caroline Hu's (Cerritos, CA) net and banked off the boards to settle just in front of the opposite post, Lord Jeff rookie Geneva Lloyd (Calgary, Alberta) dove head first to prevent the Polar Bears from poking it in.

Less than two minutes later, Bowdoin took a 1-0 lead on an unlucky break for the Amherst. Bowdoin's Michaela Calnan (Melrose, MA) took a slap shot from the right point that looked as though it would be controlled by an Amherst defender. Just as that Lord Jeff player went to stop the puck, it redirected past Hu and into the top corner. Assists on the goal were awarded to Kim Tess-Wanat (Fond du Lac, WI) and Dominque Lozzi (Reading, MA).

At the end of the first period, Amherst had out-shot Bowdoin 10-6, but the Polar Bears held a 1-0 advantage on the scoreboard. Less than three minutes into the second period, Amherst drew back-to-back penalties to go on a five-on-three power play. Halfway into the power play, Amherst's Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) was sent to the penalty box for body-checking, reducing Amherst's advantage to four-on-three.  During the exchange, the Jeffs peppered Bowdoin netminder Kayla Lessard (Enfiled, CO), but could not break through for an equalizer.

In the second half of the frame, Amherst dominated play with numerous close scoring opportunities. By the end of the second period, the Jeffs had out-shot the Polar Bears by an eye-popping 25-6 margin in the frame. Amherst hit the pipe three times in the period, including twice from inside 10 feet.

Early in the third period, Amherst once again went on the power play, but Bowdoin's Kayte Holtz (New Berlin, WI) made a momentum-swinging play. Holtz intercepted a pass from one defensemen to another, and broke in alone on Hu for a shorthanded chance. Holtz made a quick move as she hit the top of Hu's crease, and slid a shot five hole to put Bowdoin up 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Amherst finally broke through, still on the power play. On a shot from Randi Zukas (Glen Head, NY) straight away, Hanlon redirected the puck past Lessard. A second assist on the score went to Stephanie Clegg (Woburn, MA). The score cut Bowdoin's lead to 2-1, with over 16 minutes remaining in the third. With 14:59 remaining in the period, Amherst once again went on the power play, after Bowdoin was called for tripping.

Off the ensuing face-off to start the power play, Amherst hit the post once again, before Bowdoin cleared the zone. Halfway through the power play, Kirsten Dier (Appleton, WI) found Megan Curry (Shorewood, MN) on the weak side, but Curry's one-timer hit the left post and caromed wide.

Amherst's equalizer came off an even-strength face-off to Lessard's right with 11:24 left in the third.  Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) won the face-off cleanly back to Hanlon, who with a hard wrist shot beat Lessard glove side to tie the game 2-2. With just four minutes remaining, Hu made the save of the game, stoning a Polar Bear player with a glove save on a two-on-one rush.  Regulation came to a close with the two teams deadlocked at 2-2.

Seven minutes into overtime, Amherst was called for back-to-back penalties just 44 seconds apart, giving the Polar Bears a five-on-three power play for 1:16. Bowdoin had a shot at a game-winner, as a rebound squirted to an open Stephanie Ludy (Shrewsbury, MA) on the doorstep. Hu dove with her stick extended and pushed Ludy's bid off the post to help Amherst kill off both penalties without surrendering a score.

With 8:46 remaining in the overtime session, Amherst got the game-winner from Lloyd.  Once again, Amherst's score was triggered by a clean face-off win, this time by Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT), setting up Lloyd for the biggest goal of her young career. After taking control, Lloyd skated into the slot and beat Lessard top shelf for the winner.  

With the goal, Amherst advanced to tomorrow's 2 p.m. title game where it will face either Middlebury or Trinity for the 2010 NESCAC Championship. Hu made 18 saves in the win, while Lessard turned away 49 shots in net for the Polar Bears.