Men’s Hockey Wins Both Games, Giving Coach His 500th Win
Amherst men’s hockey earned two wins this weekend, rallying to complete a late comeback to take down Wesleyan 3-2 in overtime, then defeating No. 11 Trinity by the same score. The team’s second win of the weekend was head coach Jack Arena’s ’83 500th career win.
Amherst men’s hockey earned two close wins this weekend at Orr Rink, rallying to complete a late comeback to take down Wesleyan 3-2 in overtime, then defeating No. 11 Trinity in a close game by the same score. The team’s second win of the weekend gave head coach Jack Arena ’83 his historic 500th career win.
After failing to come away with a win in their two game road trip last week, going 0-1-1, the Mammoths turned things around this weekend with two big home wins against NESCAC foes. They first faced the Wesleyan Cardinals on Friday Dec. 2, and then battled the Trinity Bantams the next day, Saturday Dec. 3.
After a scoreless first period to open the Little Three matchup versus Wesleyan, the Cardinals scored twice less than a minute apart midway through the second to take a 2-0 lead. The score remained there until late in the third period. With just under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Mammoths scored to keep hope alive: center Matt Toporoswki ’25 found winger Ben Kuzma ’25, who beat a Wesleyan defender and the netminder to score. The goal was Kuzma’s sixth in four contests this season. But, the Mammoths were not done yet. With under two minutes remaining and the Mammoths still trailing, they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. Winger Quinton Fox ’24 capitalized, deflecting a shot from Toporowski into the Cardinals’ net to tie the game at 2-2.
In the five minute, three-on-three overtime period, the Mammoths got the game winner. Toporowski expertly maneuvered his way through the Wesleyan defense and fired a shot that flew past the goalie to win the game for the Mammoths. The comeback victory put head coach Jack Arena one win away from a historic 500th of his legendary career.
Riding their momentum from the previous night, the Mammoths suited up again on Saturday afternoon to face No. 11-ranked Trinity. And like the previous night, the game remained scoreless through the first period. But, even though Trinity pulled ahead after a goal in the second, Amherst picked up steam late in the game. With 4:07 left in the same period, a Mammoth breakout pass found its way to a group of three Mammoths entering the offensive zone. Bobby Luca ’25 came up with the puck, and delivered it to Kuzma, who cut in front of the goal and neatly slid the puck five-hole to score once again and tie the game at one.
The Mammoths’ next goal was a thing of beauty. Connor Merrill ’23 sent a cross-ice pass to Zach Murray ’26, who dropped the puck behind his back to Ryan Corcoran ’26. Corcoran skated down the right side towards the goal before sliding a beautiful pass along the crease to Fox, who received it at the far post and easily put it into the empty goal. 2-1 Mammoths.
They added one more goal in the final period from first year Josh Burke ’26, who wove his way through the defense to make it 3-1. Trinity attempted to rally, scoring with 13:22 remaining to make it 3-2, but Amherst goalkeeper Alex Wisco ’24 made eight saves in the final period, including one with eight seconds remaining, to keep the Mammoths on top.
The two-win series got Arena to his 499th and 500th career wins, becoming the 10th men’s hockey coach at the Division III level to reach that milestone. In his 39 seasons at Amherst, Arena has an overall record of 500-374-81, good for a .566 win percentage. That makes him the fourth winningest active coach in Division III men's hockey, as well as putting him 10th all-time.
With two goals and an assist in the Mammoths’ two victories, Fox was awarded NESCAC Player of the Week. Through six games, Kuzma leads the team with 10 points, while Fox and Toporowski are close behind with seven points each.
The team will return next weekend at Orr Rink, where they will face rival Williams and Middlebury. The puck will drop against Williams at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9.