Athletics

Amherst Hockey Teams Open NESCAC Championship Play at Home

Amherst

AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College men's and women's hockey teams each closed out the 2009-10 regular season with results that clinched home ice advantage for the quarterfinal round of the 2010 NESCAC Championship. The 2nd-ranked and defending national champion women's hockey team earned the top seed in the postseason conference tournament for the second straight year, and will host the semifinals and final next weekend should they advance past No. 8 seed Colby College this Saturday at 1 p.m. The men's team finished the regular season 2-2-2 in its last six games to fall from the No. 2 seed into the No. 4 spot in its field. Amherst will play host to 5th-seeded Trinity College in the conference tournament for the second straight season, and will look to repeat as NESCAC Champions following up on the program's first conference title last season.

Ticket Information: Tickets for Saturday's NESCAC Quarterfinal games will be sold at the doors for a price of $3 for adults and $1 for students. Children (six and under) will be admitted free of charge. There will be a separate ticket and payment required for each the women's and men's sessions. Doors to Orr Rink will be opened at 11:30 a.m. for the women's game, and 5:30 p.m. for the men's game. Amherst students will be admitted free of charge with a College ID!

Live Coverage: Both of Saturday's games will feature free live webcasts courtesy of JeffCast.

No. 1 AMHERST (18-2-4/12-1-3) vs. No. 8 COLBY (3-16-5/1-12-3)

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These two teams split the regular-season series, with the Mules knocking off then-top-ranked Amherst on their home ice less than 24 hours after the Jeffs scored two goals in each period of a 6-2 victory. Colby’s impressive upset snapped a seven-game unbeaten streak the Jeffs had been riding against the Mules, as well as Amherst’s 53-game unbeaten streak in regular-season conference play.

Stephanie Scarpato ’11 had a hand in all three of Colby’s goals to lead her team to the Jan. 30 upset. The Mules needed only 2:23 to get on the scoreboard, and Scarpato made it a 2-0 game nine minutes later. Molly Malloy ’10 cut the Jeffs’ deficit to one goal  at the 13:11 mark, but it took Colby only 67 seconds to bring the lead back to two goals with more than five minutes remaining in the opening period. Michelle McGann ’10 would make it a 3-2 game 12:36 into the second period, but neither team would score again. Loni Pisani ’11 made 31 saves for the Mules to earn her first victory of the season.

The teams headed down separate paths after their Jan. 30 meeting, with Colby dropping its next four games and Amherst winning its next six. The Lord Jeffs are unbeaten in their past 12 home games (9-0-3), while the Mules are 0-9-3 in games played away from their home ice this season. Amherst is in search of its fourth consecutive 20-win season, while Colby is hoping to advance to at least the conference semifinals for a third consecutive year.

Amherst and Colby have met twice in conference tournament history, with the fourth-seeded Mules defeating the fifth-seeded Lord Jeffs in the 2006 quarterfinals, 4-2, before second-seeded Amherst breezed past fourth-seeded Colby in the 2008 finals, 7-1. The Jeffs have advanced to the title game in each of the past three years, but the top seed has been crowned champion only twice in the conference’s history, while the No. 2 seed has claimed the title five times.

No. 4 AMHERST (16-4-4/11-4-4) vs. No. 5 TRINITY (14-8-2/11-6-2)

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Saturday night’s contest should be a great one as it features the last two NESCAC Champions. Amherst won its first conference title on home ice last season, while the Bantams won both the 2003 and 2008 NESCAC titles. Trinity is no stranger to winning on the road in the postseason, having won the 2008 title as the 6th-seed. The Lord Jeffs have lost just two games at home this season (9-2-2), with the first of those two losses coming at the hands of Trinity in the first weekend of the season.

These two teams have met just twice in recent postseason history, trading a pair of 3-0 results. In the quarterfinal round of the 2004 NESCAC Championship, 2nd-seeded Trinity ended 7th-seeded Amherst’s season with a 3-0 result. The Lord Jeffs returned the favor last year, topping the Bantams 3-0 at home en route to the 2009 title.

In this year's regular-season meeting, Trinity scored a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes of the third period to take home the win. Stephen Rogers scored an unassisted tally just after the midpoint of the frame, and Ben Shellington added an empty-netter with 32 seconds to play. Amherst out-shot Trinity 34-26 in the game, including 11-4 in the final period, but could not beat Wesley Vesprini to equalize. Amherst netminder Cole Anderson ’11 took the loss in that game, but has since landed among the elite within the conference goaltender ranks. Anderson leads the NESCAC in goals-against average (1.90), ranks fourth in save percentage (.925) and sits third in winning percentage (.714) heading into the postseason.