Amherst had played the Mules in a regular season double-header at home a month ago, winning two close games. A hat trick’s worth of wins over Colby would have sent them to the NESCAC Semifinals for a fifth consecutive year, and the Jeffs played like they knew it. The Jeffs just about blanketed the ice with their speed, smothering Colby goaltender Brianne Wheeler with shots.
Within the first three minutes, the women had knocked their sturdy opponents onto their back hooves. First-year Courtney Baranek got things under way for the Jeffs with a breakaway goal just 1:52 into the game, drawing a whistle against the Mules in the process.
On the ensuing power play, the women had no mercy, as junior Ellen Swiontkowski pushed the puck over the goal line to give her team a 2-0 lead. Later in the period, sophomore Megan Doyen made it a 3-0 Amherst lead when she deflected junior Stephanie Clegg’s pass from the point into the back of the net.
Coming back for the second period, it didn’t take long for senior captain Courtney Hanlon to add to her team-leading total of 13 points, scoring a 14th just 84 seconds after returning to the ice. Near the end of the period, first-year Barrett McBride fed a backhanded pass from behind the net to senior Bradie Campbell, who blasted the puck past Wheeler, giving the hosts a dominant 5-0 lead heading into the final frame. The Jeffs had taken 17 shots in each of the first two periods — only allowing their opponents six overall.
The Mules were stubborn as ever in the final period, steadily working their way around the rink, looking for an opportunity to make what looked to be an impossible comeback. Amherst relaxed its offense, taking only five shots in the third period, but their defense remained stout, holding their opponents to a mere seven.
Colby sophomore Allyson Kane crushed a slap shot from the point near the end of the third period, but Amherst goalie Sinead Murphy snagged the save to end a very impressive night for her team. She finished with 13 saves to give the Jeffs their sixth shutout of the season.
“This weekend we played a complete game: 60 minutes of relentless forechecking and back checking all over the ice,” said Curry. “I think we’re peaking at the right time and it gives us great confidence heading into our game against Trinity.”
“This is the most important part of the season,” added Clegg, “and it showed that we are looking at playoffs as a new beginning. Nothing that we’ve done previously matters anymore — and we played with that mindset and took the game to a whole new level.”
The women will travel to Middlebury to play the NESCAC semifinals, facing Trinity on Saturday and either Middlebury or Bowdoin on Sunday next weekend.