Sparked by an offensive performance and lights-out goaltending, the men’s hockey team skated to a 3-0 victory on Friday, Feb. 1 in Maine over the Bowdoin Polar Bears. The win moved Amherst to 9-6-3 on the season.
Taking advantage of a power play opportunity, John Festa ’19 led the offensive surge with 4:10 remaining in the opening period. Stemming from a picturesque breakout, Jack Fitzgerald ’19 and Joey Lupo ’20 worked the puck to Festa, who found the back of the net giving the Mammoths a 1-0 edge.
Feeding off of the energy, captain Phil Johansson ’19 doubled the Mammoths’ lead just three minutes later. Johansson collected a beautiful pass from Lupo in the high slot and fired a wrister into the net against the Bowdoin goaltender.
With time winding down in regulation, the Polar Bears struggled to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Their best chance came on a power play with 4:40 left on the clock, but Ronnie Leston’s shot rang off the pipe, keeping the Mammoths’ lead at two.
The final tally of the night came from Lupo with 1:03 left in the period, as he found the back of an empty net to extend the Mammoths’ lead to 3-0.
Lupo led the offensive charge registering one goal and two assists on the night, while goalie Michael Cullen ’21 made 28 saves.
This victory marks Cullen’s first collegiate career shutout. The Mammoths recorded 33-28 shots on the night before a quick turnaround to Colby.
The Mammoths were in Waterville, Maine on Saturday, Feb. 2 to face the Mules. Colby scored first with seven minutes left in the first period.
Eager to continue the offensive success from the night before, Sean Wrenn ’22 found the back of the net. Pieter von Steinbergs ’21 and A.J. Klein ’20 were credited with assists on the goal.
Less than a minute later, Fitzgerald gave the Mammoths a 2-1 lead, capturing his seventh goal of the season off of a pass from Lupo and Klein. With back-and-forth action throughout the second and third periods, Colby tied the game at 2-2 with 15 seconds left in the third period. Giancarlo Ventre ’20 registered 28 saves out of 30 shots.
“Colby plays an extremely structured game and has one of the relatively smaller ice surfaces,” Festa said. “We played hard against them as well but could not quite finish. Overall I think we need to work on closing out games but the effort level is exactly where it needs to be to allow us a chance to go far in the playoffs.”
Festa also praised the hard work of the tag team of net minders. “Cullen got his first shutout of his career on Friday against Bowdoin, which was well deserved, and Ventre made some unbelievable stops that kept us in the game. He wasn’t able to see either of the goals that went in. Having a hot goalie is something that championship teams always tend to have and it seems like we have two of them right now.”
The Mammoths will be back in action on Friday, Feb. 8 at Tufts.