No. 4 Lord Jeffs Fall to No. 5 Trinity in Overtime, 2-1

Senior Ted Vickers scored Amherst's only goal in what
is likely his final game in the purple and white.

AMHERST, MA – The 4th-seeded Amherst College men’s hockey team opened up NESCAC Championship play looking to defend a conference title for the first time in program history with a home game against No. 5 Trinity College this evening. In front of a packed house at Orr Rink, Amherst suffered a 2-1 loss to Trinity in overtime on a goal by Regnars Alksnis just over seven minutes into the extra session.

The first period was full of fast-paced up-and-down action as both teams had a number of scoring chances. Five minutes into the game, Amherst junior Trip Wray (Edina, MN) nearly scored after breaking in from the blue line uncontested. His shot on Trinity goaltender Wesley Vesprini went just over the Bantam netminder’s shoulder.

Right before the midpoint of the period, Amherst went on the power play after a Trinity player was called for hooking. Despite playing 4-on-5 hockey, the Bantams had the first two shots of the Amherst power play, but Amherst’s Cole Anderson (Sylvan Lake, Alberta) stoned both Sean McCarthy and Michael DiCenso.

The second half of the period grew increasingly physical, as the two teams took matching penalties before Amherst was called for boarding. The early penalties did nothing to calm the Amherst team’s intensity, and with just under three minutes to play Amherst rookie Brandon Hew (Fresno, CA) put a huge hit on McCarthy in front of the Amherst student section. McCarthy was visibly shaken by the hit, and could barely get back to the Bantam bench on wobbly legs. McCarthy did return to the game after missing a few shifts.

With 1:53 to play in the stanza, Trinity was called for too many men on the ice. Amherst’s power play unit made the Bantams pay, and with 1:19 remaining, senior Ted Vickers (Chilliwack, BC) beat Vesprini stick-side with a quick wrist shot from the left circle. Assists on the game’s opening score went to first-year Jamie Hawkrigg (Waterdown, Ontario) and junior Luke Arnold (Lincoln, MA).

Early in the second period during another 4-on-4 session, Amherst sophomore defenseman Jeremy Deutsch (Huntington, NY) nearly scored his first collegiate goal on a backhanded bid. After beating a Bantam defender to a loose puck at the blue line, Deutsch broke in alone on Vesprini from a hard angle, but could not keep his shot from coasting just wide of the far post.

Amherst was forced to kill off back-to-back penalties, and just moments after the second one expired, Vickers broke in one-on-one with Vesprini. His hard wrist shot beat the Bantam backstop, but caromed hard off the crossbar and over the boards. With 9:28 to play in the second period, Amherst looked as though it bashed home a rebound past Vesprini, but for the second time of the night the officials waived off the score saying Amherst knocked it loose from the Trinity goalie’s grasp.

With just under two minutes to play in the second period, Trinity tied the game 1-1 on a power play score. Senior Ryan Crapser hit a slap shot towards the Amherst net from straight away, where Richard Hollstein met the puck with his stick to chip a redirection over Anderson’s stick-side shoulder.

As the third period went along, both teams dumped the puck more often as neither side wanted to be responsible for making a game-altering mistake in its own end. Around the four-minute mark of the third, Anderson and Vesprini traded beautiful glove saves to deny hard slap shots. In the final seconds of the period, Mike Baran (Duxbury, MA) beat a Bantam defender to a puck in the neutral zone and looked to break in alone on Vesprini, but another Trinity blue-liner caught him and spoiled the rush.

The third stanza ended without incident, and these two evenly matched foes were headed for overtime. Just 3:49 into the extra frame, Lord Jeff senior defenseman Andrew Stevenson (Newton, MA) drew a holding penalty, giving Amherst’s conference-leading power play unit a chance to score the game-winner in sudden death fashion.

The Lord Jeffs were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, and Trinity made them pay just minutes later. After a shot from the point by Trinity’s Chris Menard, Alksnis crashed to the front of the net to poke the rebound past Anderson. With the score 7:13 into overtime, the Bantams punched their ticket for next weekend’s NESCAC semifinals.  Anderson finished the night with 26 saves, while Versprini made 19 saves in the win.