Amherst Takes Ben McCabe Tournament Title

Nick Brunette '13 had a goal and an assist against Trinity.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College and Trinity College men’s ice hockey teams played to a 2-2 draw Monday afternoon at Orr Rink, but it was the host Lord Jeffs who claimed the Ben McCabe Tournament title when Andrew Kurlandski ’14 (Kirkwood, MO) scored an unofficial goal during an extra period.

Trinity’s Egor Petrov ’11 scored twice in the opening period to give the Bantams some early breathing room, but Amherst’s Nick Brunette ’13 (Chaska, MN) and Jake Hannon ’12 (Williamsville, NY) responded with goals of their own in the second. Neither team would score in the third frame or during overtime, moving the Lord Jeffs to 5-2-2 and the Bantams to 2-4-2.

Amherst co-captain Eddie Effinger ’12, who had two goals and one assist during yesterday’s 3-2 win over Wesleyan, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Jeffs are unbeaten in their past five games (3-0-2) and have now won their home tournament in three consecutive attempts.

This was the teams’ second meeting of the season, with Amherst earning a 4-2 win in Hartford on Nov. 20. The Jeffs and Bantams are 7-7-5 against each other during what has been a very competitive rivalry since 2001. Both teams will resume conference play Friday at 7 p.m. when the Lord Jeffs host Williams College and the Bantams host Castleton State. Williams—ranked No. 3 in the national poll—is the only Division III team yet to suffer a loss (7-0-1).

The Bantams used a quick counterattack to get the game’s first goal, blocking an Amherst shot and immediately pushing ahead to catch the Jeffs off guard. Junior defenseman Jeffrey Menard got credit for the assist when he found an open Petrov, who beat Lord Jeff goaltender Nathan Corey ’13 glove-side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead 3:58 into the contest.

Amherst was awarded 94 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey but could not capitalize, as the hosts struggled on power play chances in the opening period. Petrov then scored his second goal of the frame with 8:04 to play when he wrapped around the net and beat Corey glove-side once again. Amherst’s Joe Brock ’11 hit the post one minute later during a 5-on-4 opportunity, but that’s as close as the Jeffs would get as the Bantams held a comfortable 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

Trinity’s Adam Houli hit the post five minutes into the second period during a 4-on-4 session and the Bantams soon had 30 seconds of 4-on-3 hockey to work with, but Corey made two huge saves and the NESCAC’s top-ranked penalty kill unit continued to hold.

The Lord Jeffs would finally get on the board when Brunette rang the post and lit the lamp with one shot, beating Wes Vesprini with 11:33 remaining in the second period. Hannon tied things up at 2-2 six minutes later when he scored on a shot from just inside the blue line on the right wing. The Jeffs closed the period on the power play and nearly took the lead when Trip Wray ’11 hit the crossbar, but the teams headed into the second intermission knotted at two goals apiece.

Amherst was the sharper team in the opening minutes of the third period, but Vesprini made three outstanding saves in a span of 30 seconds. Neither team would score in the remainder of regulation, but the Bantams had the best chance when they were given a 5-on-3 series with less than four minutes to go. Trinity entered the weekend ranked last in the NESCAC in power play conversion rate and could not improve its average, as the Jeffs escaped unharmed to send the game into overtime.

The best chance of the extra session came when Trinity’s Chris Menard found Larry Bero, whose one-timer was knocked away by a beautiful kick-save from Corey. The game officially ended after five minutes of overtime, but 15 minutes were put back on the clock to determine a tournament champion, allowing Kurlandski to put home a pass from classmate Brian Safstrom ’14 for the title clincher.

Corey finished with 21 saves to move to 1-0-1 on the season and 4-0-1 for his career, while Vesprini (1-4-2) stopped 26 shots for the Bantams. Hannon and Brunette each finished with a goal and an assist.