Men's Hockey Struggles to Find Mid-Season Rhythm

Men’s hockey posted uneven results through January, but has done enough to keep postseason hope alive.

Men's Hockey Struggles to Find Mid-Season Rhythm
First-year forward Ben Kuzma '25 handles the puck in a game against St. Michael's College earlier this season. 

Amherst men’s hockey’s 2022 season has been filled with  postponements and inconsistent results, logging big wins but also unfortunate losses. Since the beginning of January, the team has gone 6-4-2 on the ice. Nevertheless, the Mammoths took a great opportunity in Maine this past weekend to position themselves for a higher seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament.

Due to postponements, the Mammoths did not start when they were initially scheduled to, with their contests against Colby on Jan. 7 and Bowdoin on Jan. 8 each being moved to the following day. The game against Colby on Jan. 8 saw the Mules beat the Mammoths 3-0 at Orr Rink. On the ninth, the Mammoths came back with a stronger effort, resulting in a tie with Bowdoin. After a scoreles overtime, the game ended at a score of 2-2, with goals from Ryan Tucker ’24 and Matteo Mangiardi ’22E in regulation The tie against Bowdoin helped the Mammoths gain some momentum, as they went on to capture a 6-3 win against Middlebury. The team’s performance was highlighted by a career-first hat trick from Michael Pitts ’23, and goals from Sean Wrenn ’22, Ben Kuzma ’25, and Connor McGinnis ’24.

The Mammoths continued their high-scoring ways into their matches with Connecticut College and Tufts, where they bested the Camels 6-2 and the Jumbos 5-3. The Connecticut College win included five second-period goals from Mangiardi, Tucker, Pitts, Kuzma, and Connor Merrill ’23, with Quinton Fox ’24 scoring his brace in the third. In the Jumbos contest, the Mammoths saw goals from Wrenn, Joey Verkerke ’23, Kuzma, Mangiardi (who netted the game-winner with 1:45 to go), and Matt Toporowski ’25. The Mammoths’ stellar stretch of games moved them to 4-4-1 in NESCAC play and 5-6-1 overall.

The Mammoths next took the ice for a big matchup on Jan. 18, playing No. 15 Curry College and holding their own in a 1-1 tie. Beating No. 10 Trinity earlier in the season, the Mammoths have shown they can play with some of the top teams in the country, and this game was no different. Mitchell Shults ’22 scored the Mammoths’ only goal of the game at the 13:45 mark of the third period and secured the extra point. Continuing the trend of postponed games, the Mammoths had their next two matches against Hamilton and Anna Maria College postponed. On the 23rd, the Mammoths played their postponed match against the Continentals, getting revenge for an early-season loss to Hamilton and continuing their hot streak with a 2-1 win. A goal from Pitts and a short-handed game-winner from Wrenn, in addition to a season-high 38-save performance from netminder Dan Dachille ’23,  moved the Mammoths to 5-4-1 in NESCAC play and 6-6-1 overall.

However, the Mammoths’ schedule got much tougher following this win, and with that came some difficult losses, starting with their Jan. 25 contest at Babson College, who was ranked No. 9 in that week’s national rankings. The Mammoths fought hard and competed against a top 10 team, but the Beavers took home the victory 3-2. The Mammoths got goals from Mangiardi and Pieter von Steinbergs ’22E, but it wasn’t enough as Babson scored two goals in the final period to secure the victory. The team’s next contest was a matchup with Trinity, who they bested 3-2 earlier in the season. Unfortunately, this rematch did not end the same way for the Mammoths, as the Bantams won 3-1 at Orr Rink and the Mammoths fell to 5-5-1 in NESCAC play and 6-8-1 overall. The Mammoths’ lone goal came from Merrill at the 13:50 mark of the third period. Dachille continued his stellar play in this game, stopping all 15 shots he faced in the first period and recording his fourth 25+ save game of the season.

The Mammoths’ final contest of January came against Wesleyan. The Mammoths came out of the gates hot, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Mammoths started with goals from Greg McGunigle ’23 and Kuzma, but Wesleyan outscored the Mammoths 3-0 the rest of the way and took home a 3-2 win. With the loss, the Mammoths fell to 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in NESCAC play. The Mammoths looked to rebound from their loss to the Cardinals on Saturday, Feb. 5, against Bowdoin and Sunday, Feb. 6, against Colby in another set of NESCAC rematches. On Saturday, the Mammoths traveled to Brunswick and ended the afternoon by beating the Polar Bears with a score of 5-3. After going to 1-0 early in the game, Kuzma continued his streak of good form, netting two goals in total. Bobby Luca ’25 recorded his second goal of the season soon after. McGinnis and Wrenn also scored in the win. The Mammoths then followed up the dominating offensive performance with a stellar defensive one, pitching a shutout against 15th-ranked Colby to finish the weekend. Dachille was the team’s MVP in this one, saving all 32 shots he faced. A goal by Merrill with 3:10 to go in the second period would prove to be the difference in the game, which ultimately ended in a 1-0 Mammoths win. With the 2-0 weekend, the Mammoths move to 8-9-2 overall and 7-6-1 in NESCAC play. They will return to the ice on Friday, Feb. 11, taking on Connecticut College at 7 p.m. in New London, before closing out the season on the road against Tufts, and at home versus Middlebury and rival Williams.