Men’s Hockey Begins Season Well, Going 2-1-1

The men’s hockey team has started the season well, going 2-1-1 in their first four games. Ben Kuzma ’25 leads the team with seven total points and earned NESCAC Player of the Week for his efforts.

Men’s Hockey Begins Season Well, Going 2-1-1
Men’s hockey will hope to improve on last season, where they reached the NESCAC quarterfinals. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios.

After finishing with a 9-13-2 record and making a NESCAC Quarterfinal appearance last season, the men’s hockey team will look to build on their successes from a year ago in the still-young 2022-23 season. With senior captains Joey Verkerke ’23 and Connor Merrill ’23, along with fellow seniors Greg McGungile ’23 and Aaron Jones ’23E, leading the way, and with last season’s leading goal scorer Ben Kuzma ’25, leading point-scorer Matt Toporowski ’25, and starting goaltender Dan Dachille ’23 returning, the team is poised for a strong season. In the early-going, the Mammoths’ talent has propelled them to a 2-1-1 record heading into the rest of their season following the Thanksgiving break.

The Mammoths opened their account with a 3-1 home win over NESCAC foe Hamilton on Saturday, Nov. 19. Michael Pitts ’23 got the scoring going early, netting his first of the season on a one-timer 6:35 into the first period off assists from Evan Linchman ’23 and Ryan Tucker ’24. The Mammoths stayed hot, scoring again less than ten minutes later. This time, it was Josh Burke ’26, who got his first collegiate goal off an assist from Quinton Fox ’24. Fox picked off a Continentals’ clearance attempt before sliding the puck to a wide-open Burke. Hamilton responded with a goal in the beginning of the third period to get within one before pulling their goaltender in a last-ditch attempt to equalize. Tyler Bourque ’24 finished the game off with an empty-net goal with one second remaining, sealing the victory. With the win, Amherst moved to 1-0 on the season for the first time since 2019-20 and avenged their 5-1 loss to the Continentals last season in the process.

The Mammoths’ success did not stop there, as they traveled to St. Michael’s University, a team they beat 5-1 a year ago, and came home with a 6-3 win this time around. After going down 1-0 early, the Mammoths responded with a power-play goal from Fox, which was assisted by Burke and Bourque. But, while St. Michael’s responded with another goal to put them up 2-1, the Mammoths again showed their resilience, responding with a goal from Toporowski off assists from Bobby Luca ’25 and Kuzma. Amherst then took a 3-2 lead by way of an unassisted tally from Max Thiessan ’25. The Purple Knights tied the score at 3-3, but after that it was all Amherst from there. Verkerke netted a power-play goal off assists from Kuzma and Toporowski to make it 4-3 before Kuzma got two goals of his own: the first was assisted by Burke, while the second was unassisted and sealed the Mammoths’ 2-0 start.

They then traveled to SUNY Geneseo for an exciting third contest. Geneseo came out of the gates hot, scoring three goals in the first period. But, the Mammoths remained undeterred by the deficit, as Kuzma put Amherst on the board with a goal in the second period to narrow the gap. They then sliced into the lead even more when Bourque scored to make it 3-2 early in the third period. The excitement was palpable as the teams went back and forth for most of the period, before Kuzma netted the tying goal with 4:01 left in regulation to send the game to overtime. However, the scoring would stop there, as neither team would score in the overtime period, and the game would end in a 3-3 tie.

In their last contest of the 10 day break, Amherst played Babson on Sunday, Nov. 27, when their winning ways came to an unfortunate end. The Beavers led wire-to-wire and left Orr Rink with a 3-1 victory. Kuzma, who was named NESCAC Player of the Week for his performances, scored the lone goal for the Mammoths on the day, getting his team-leading fifth of the season off assists from Toporowski and Thiessen.

The Mammoths will return to action on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m., to host Wesleyan, before taking on Trinity on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 3 p.m.