Amherst in Search of Program's First NESCAC Title
Senior forward Joel Covelli is Amherst's returning points leader.
The Amherst College men’s ice hockey team had another successful season in 2007-08, finishing the season with a 14-9-3 (11-6-2 NESCAC/ECAC East) record. The Lord Jeffs ended the regular season with a mark that earned them the No. 4 seed in the NESCAC Championship, as they defeated Connecticut College 3-2 in overtime in the quarterfinals. Amherst was unable to skate past Middlebury in the conference semifinals, ending its season with a 2-1 loss.
The 2007-08 season was a rollercoaster ride for the Lord Jeffs, who put together three-game win streaks on a trio of occasions. Amherst also picked up a number of impressive wins during the season, including a 6-2 road win at Williams – the first victory over the Ephs since 2002-03. Additional highlights of the season include a 3-1 road win over defending national champion Oswego State, and upsets over then-11th ranked Babson (6-4) and then-15th ranked New England College (3-2, OT) .
Last year’s team excelled in special teams, as the Lord Jeffs finished with the NESCAC's best penalty kill percentage (86.0), third best scoring defense (2.46 g/gm) and special teams net (+9), and fourth best scoring offense (3.12 g/gm); tied for third best power play percentage (21.1)
When the NESCAC released the All-Conference Teams at the season’s end, Amherst placed a league-high four players on the two squads, as senior Kyle Schoppel, juniors Joel Covelli and Jeff Landers, and first-year Jonathan La Rose all received recognition. Notably, head coach Jack Arena ‘83 picked up his 300th career win during last year's NESCAC quarterfinals.
Amherst waved goodbye to six seniors by way of graduation last spring, with co-captains Rob Stevenson and Kyle Schoppel joining Gregg Adamo, Andrew Schremp, Mike McIntosh and Griffin Biedron to comprise the Class of 2008. The group of seniors was just the second class in Coach Arena’s 25 years to never have a losing season, as they finished with a 53-40-7 mark at Amherst. Five of the six members of the team also received recognition from the NESCAC last season as All-Academic honorees.
With the departure of forwards Adamo, Schoppel and Schremp, Amherst loses 50 points from last season. The trio comprised nearly 25 percent of last year’s scoring, and piled up 190 points during their careers. Schoppel was a First Team All-Conference standout who finished his career with 99 points in 100 games, while Adamo finished at the 50-point mark. Schremp chipped in 41 points during his time at Amherst as well.
Defenders Stevenson, McIntosh and Biedron formed a rock-solid foundation for Amherst last season in front of two first-year goaltenders, and can be credited with teaching a young core of blue-liners valuable lessons. Stevenson was a member of the NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship team, and a hard-working player on the ice, while McIntosh finished last season tied for 20th in the NESCAC in assists (20). Biedron transferred to Amherst from the Air Force Academy, and brought a tireless determination to training and games.
Amherst’s key strengths this season will surely be its defense and goaltending. The Lord Jeffs return five
Cole Anderson (above) will be pair with classmate
and fellow goaltender Jonathan La Rose to form
the NESCAC's best shot stopping tandem.
The defensive unit can rest easy knowing that they have a pair of sophomore goaltenders who are un-matched in the NESCAC. Second-year stoppers Jonathan La Rose and Cole Anderson have created a buzz around the conference and Division III with their one-two punch in net for Amherst, and should be mainstays for the Lord Jeffs over the next three seasons. Senior goaltender A.J. Scola missed a majority of last season while he studied abroad, but will provide experience and leadership on and off the ice to the unit.
At forward, Amherst returns 10 skaters from the 2007-08 roster, as seniors Joel Covelli, Will Collins and Brendan Powers lead juniors Keith Nelson, Jack Baer and Ted Vickers, and sophomores Matt Rhone, Luke Arnold, Trip Wray and Jason DeGiovanni.
Covelli enters this season as the returning points leader after scoring 11 goals and dishing out 20 assists last season, while Nelson, Powers and Landers combined for 57 points last season as well. Coach Arena enters the year hoping that Amherst’s scoring will be more balanced than in the past, as he is looking for Baer, Rhone and Arnold to step into more prominent roles this year.
This season, Amherst welcomes five first-years to the program, all of whom should vie for playing time this season. Rookie defenders Mike Baron and Jeremy Deutsch join the ranks out of prep hockey, as does forward Mark Colp, while forwards Eddie Effinger and Kevin English played juniors last season.
Amherst starts the season with a pair of NESCAC/ECAC East games at Trinity and Wesleyan on the weekend of Nov. 21-22. It will be crucial for the Jeffs to pick up a few wins heading into the Thanksgiving break, before returning for the Douglas W. Roberts Tournament at Conn. College. Notably, Amherst will play six of its seven games between Jan. 2 and Jan. 17 on the road.