Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. – Director of Athletics Suzanne Coffey has announced the hiring of Jeff Matthews as head coach of the women's ice hockey program. Matthews spent last season as the team's interim head coach, helping to guide Amherst to a 13-11-1 overall record.
"Coach Matthews did an outstanding job leading the team to a 12th-consecutive NESCAC tournament and is a great addition to our staff," said Coffey. "Anyone who saw Amherst women's ice hockey this year was treated to tenacious play and the powerful skating and stick-handling of one of Division III's best players. It was a joy to watch the team come together and improve game by game."
Rebounding from a 1-3 start, Amherst went 6-1-1 over its next eight games to kick-off a crucial midseason span. Dropping three in a row during a two-week stretch in January, the Jeffs got back on track with a big 3-2 overtime win over Conn. College before sweeping a two-game set against archrival Williams to keep the squad in contention for the NESCAC regular season title until the final weekend of the regular season.
Finishing with a 10-5-1 league ledger, Amherst qualified for its 12th-consecutive conference tournament, notching a 5-1 opening round victory at home over Hamilton. The Purple & White advanced to their seventh straight NESCAC semifinal before bowing out to eventual champion Bowdoin (3-1) in a tightly contested game that went down to the final minute.
Three different Jeffs earned all-conference praise for their efforts, including two-time Player of the Year Geneva Lloyd '13, who also garnered first team All-America honors and finished as the runner-up for the Laura Hurd Award, given annually to the best NCAA Division III women's hockey player. Ranked in the top ten nationally in the final USCHO.com poll, Amherst played the second hardest schedule in D-III and enjoyed an excellent season on the power play, converting 24.6 percent of their chances to finish second in the conference and ninth nationally.
"It is a tremendous honor to have been awarded the opportunity to work for such an impressive athletic department and school," said Matthews. "It has been my career ambition to end up coaching at an institution like Amherst College. To be part of such an exceptional community is a thrilling opportunity for my family and me."
Prior to Amherst, Matthews spent six seasons as the head coach of the Northwood School boys' junior team in Lake Placid, N.Y., racking up a 174-59-17 record and a .730 winning percentage. During his tenure, over 50 hockey alumni continued their careers at the collegiate level, joining the ranks of NCAA Division I and III institutions nationwide.
Placing numerous players into prestigious Ivy and Patriot league programs, Matthews' student-athletes also matriculated to several NESCAC institutions including Bowdoin, Middlebury and Wesleyan. In addition to his coaching duties, he taught economics and was recognized as the 2010 Jim Fullerton Award winner (Northwood's top faculty prize).
A seasoned coaching veteran, Matthews also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater Division I Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), helping to run every facet of the Engineers' men's hockey program. He has also served as the head boys' varsity coach at Northfield Mount Hermon (2001-04) and as an assistant at Division I American International College.
A graduate of Deerfield Academy (1991), he earned a bachelor's of science degree in business management from RPI in 1995 before receiving a master's in educational psychology from AIC in 2002. Following his graduation from RPI, Matthews played professionally for a season in Sweden.
Matthews is the son of longtime Westfield High School coach C.B. Matthews, who recently won the Matthew J. Ryan award for outstanding contributions and dedication to high school hockey in western Massachusetts. He is married to former Division I Providence College women's hockey standout Sarah (Youlen) Matthews, who also served as an assistant coach at RPI and Northwood.