On Tuesday, Amherst took to the ice against the NEC Pilgrims. The Jeffs put on a clinic early on, displaying rock-solid defense while jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Immediately after Amherst’s second goal midway through the second period, the Pilgrims struck back with a goal of their own. The Jeffs thoroughly dominated the second period, outshooting the Pilgrims 11-1, but the other team won the battle of percentages and trailed by one mere goal at the start of the third.
The third began much the same, with the Jeffs dominating play at both ends but unable to find the back of the net against a strong effort from Pilgrim goaltender Teraysa White. Amazingly, it was the Pilgrims whose steely determination paid off, as they slid one in from around the net to draw level midway through the third, sending the game into overtime.
The Pilgrims were outmatched throughout overtime as well, and their faith seemed to be broken as they were called for a penalty, at which time the Jeffs pulled Stuart from the net to add an extra skater. Not long after, first-year Ashley Salerno fed a long pass to senior Randi Zukas, who drove it home for the 3-2 win. The Jeffs outshot their opponents 36-6, perhaps making their job more difficult than it needed to be, but they gained another win on the night and prepared for their next game on Thursday.
Two nights later, the Jeffs battled an upset-minded Utica squad at Orr Rink. During an early power play, Stephanie Clegg ’12 scored on a deflection from Zukas’ blistering point shot to give Amherst a quick 1-0 lead, and the home team seemed to have all the momentum. The visiting Pioneers, however, were not to be outmatched as completely as the Pilgrims and tied the game five minutes later. Amherst retook the lead when Salerno rifled a shot over the goalie’s shoulder with just 48 seconds left in the first frame.
Early in the second, the Pioneers scored twice in the first 13 minutes against senior goaltender Caroline Hu to take a short-lived 3-2 lead. The Jeffs responded less than a minute later when Clegg redirected a second shot, this time off the stick of Geneva Lloyd ’13, tying the game at 3-3. A few minutes later, senior captain Courtney Hanlon fed a pass to fellow captain Megan Curry ’11, who slid the puck into the net just as she was taken down from behind. The goal gave Amherst a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
Just one minute into the third, the Pioneers charted out the Jeffs’ end of the rink, scoring on a hard slap shot to even things once more. The next ten minutes were all about the Jeffs, however, as Salerno and Clegg scored to go ahead 6-4, the largest lead of the night for any team. With the final goal, Clegg recorded a hat trick for the Jeffs. Utica’s Megan Myers completed her own hat trick with 2:32 to play, cutting the deficit in half, but the Pioneers could not push through another goal, and the Jeffs skated away with a hard-fought 6-5 victory.
With the pair of wins, the Jeffs end their regular season on a high note and carry a strong 17-5-2 record into the postseason, including an impressive 14-2 streak in their last 16. They will take on the While Mules of Colby at home this Saturday at 7 p.m. in the NESCAC Quarterfinals.