Men's Hockey Continues Battle for NESCAC's Top Seed

Live Coverage:
Eleventh-ranked Amherst (14-3-3, 9-3-3 NESCAC) will close out its regular season with four home games, taking on the New England College Pilgrims (9-10-2, 6-8-2) Friday at 7 p.m. and the Saint Anselm College Hawks (10-8-1, 7-7-1) Saturday at 3 p.m. A live webcast will provided free of charge for each game.

Joe Brock '11 has totaled five goals and three assists in his past four games.

Weekend Preview:
Amherst had its 14-game unbeaten streak snapped when it hit the always-difficult Maine road trip, as the Lord Jeffs suffered a 4-2 loss at 15th-ranked Bowdoin before settling for a 2-2 tie with Colby. The Jeffs are still among the elite in Division III, but schools have little room for error when attempting to qualify for an NCAA Tournament that featured only 11 teams last year. Amherst boasts the nation’s top penalty kill unit (91.7 percent) and ranks second in scoring defense (1.65 gpg), also serving the second fewest penalty minutes per game (10.7). Joe Brock ’11 has established himself as one of the best forwards in the NESCAC, totaling five goals and three assists in his past four games. Brock leads the Jeffs with 23 points (10-13-23) and leads one of the best power play units in Division III, scoring six times while on the man-advantage.

Although the Pilgrims and Hawks have each hovered around the .500 mark this season, the Jeffs have struggled with both teams in recent history. Amherst has won each of the past two against New England but is only 4-6 in the past 10 games, posting a 2-3 record at home during that span. The Jeffs and Pilgrims have been in several slugfests, combining for at least five goals in nine of the past 10 meetings and at least eight goals in four of the past 10. New England has posted a 3-3 record against NESCAC teams this year, with a 7-4 win over ninth-ranked Middlebury marking one of its most notable victories.

Mark Colp '12 is one of eight Amherst players with at least 10 points this season (3-9-12).

Saint Anselm is 2-4 against the NESCAC but has also defeated Middlebury this season, with its 4-0 win over the Panthers and a 5-3 win at Trinity highlighting a rollercoaster season. The Hawks have been unable to put together an unbeaten streak longer than four games and have alternated wins and losses in their past five contests. Home ice is far from being an advantage when Amherst and Saint Anselm meet, as the visiting team has won each of the past nine meetings. The Jeffs are 6-4 against the Hawks (1-4 at home) in the past 10 years, with their last victory at Orr Rink coming during the 1999-2000 season by a score of 5-0. Hawk forward Coleman Noonan ’11 is among the nation’s most efficient scorers, as his 14 goals and 14 assists rank him in the top 20 in Division III in points per game (1.56).

Playoff Scenarios:
Although Amherst has already secured a spot in the upcoming conference tournament, hosting a conference game is far from a guarantee in the ultra-competitive NESCAC. The Lord Jeffs were bumped from the top spot in the standings this past weekend, but with Williams falling to Middlebury Tuesday night Amherst has moved into a tie for first place with Bowdoin and the Ephs. The top five teams in the standings are separated by only half a game, with Hamilton and Colby also fighting for a home quarterfinal game.

Streaks and Milestones:
Orr Rink has been good to the Lord Jeffs, who are 27-4-3 at home in the past three years. Amherst posted an 8-2-1 record at home in the 2007-08 season and was a remarkable 12-1-1 last year, with this year’s squad riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) at Orr since a 2-0 loss to the Bantams. Amherst is shooting for only the second 20-win season and third NCAA Tournament berth in program history, while the seniors continue to build on an impressive record that makes them the winningest class in program history (64-26-8).

Check out weekend previews for the women’s ice hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams. Photos from this year's sporting events are available on Amherst's flickr page.