Amherst Hockey Teams to Host NESCAC Championship First-Round Action

From a NESCAC Release 

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s and women’s ice hockey teams kick off their respective 2008 NESCAC Championships by hosting first-round action this Saturday at Orr Rink. The Lord Jeff women have earned the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Bowdoin College at 1 p.m., while the fourth-seeded Lord Jeff men will take on fifth-seeded Connecticut College at 4 p.m. This is the first time both the Amherst men's and women's hockey teams have hosted a first round playoff game. Tickets for the day's events will be sold at the door for $3 for adults and $1 for students and children.  

Women's NESCAC Logo

Women’s Ice Hockey
Top-seeded Middlebury (19-2-3, 13-0-3 NESCAC) edged out Amherst (17-3-4, 12-0-4 NESCAC) for the number-one seed by only a half of a game, as both teams went unbeaten in the NESCAC this season. While second-seeded Amherst came up short in its bid to earn the number-one seed in this year’s championship, the Jeffs still managed to complete the regular season with an unbeaten conference record and the best finish in the NESCAC standings in program history. Amherst capped its league schedule over the weekend with a pair of wins during a home-and-home series with Connecticut College, as the Jeffs are now unbeaten in their last 14 games.

Amherst will host seventh-seeded Bowdoin (5-11-6, 2-8-6 NESCAC) in the first round on Saturday, Mar. 1. These two squads faced each other during last year’s semifinals, with the Jeffs edging the Polar Bears in overtime by a 3-2 score. It was the first victory in program history for Amherst over Bowdoin, as the Polar Bears had held a 22-0-1 mark over the Jeffs before the loss. Amherst is now 3-0-1 in its last four meetings with Bowdoin, including a pair of wins this season. The Jeffs opened the 2007-08 campaign with a 2-0 win at Bowdoin on Nov. 16 before skating to a 4-0 victory over the Polar Bears on Jan. 26 at Orr Rink. Saturday’s first round game will be the third meeting in tournament history between the two, with each team holding one victory.

It is no surprise that junior Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI)—last year’s leading goal-scorer in the NESCAC—is once again leading Amherst with 14 goals, but first-year Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) has made a greater immediate impact on the Jeffs’ than head coach Jim Plumer could have asked for. Hanlon’s 11 goals and 18 helpers place her second in the NESCAC in both assists and first-year scoring, as she was named the conference’s Player of the Week back in January.

First Round - Saturday, March 1
No. 7 Bowdoin at No. 2 Amherst – 1 p.m.
No. 6 Hamilton at No. 3 Trinity – 3 p.m.
No. 5 Connecticut at No. 4 Colby – 1 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 8 at Middlebury
1 p.m./4 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 9 at Middlebury
1 p.m.

Men's NESCAC Logo

Men’s Ice Hockey
Both Amherst (13-8-3, 11-6-2 NESCAC) and fifth-seeded Connecticut College (9-12-3, 9-8-2 NESCAC) come into Saturday’s first round action fresh off a win, as the Lord Jeffs skated to a 6-2 victory over rival Williams and the Camels handled UMass Boston by a 6-1 score this past weekend. After making the tournament field last winter for the first time in championship history, Connecticut returns this year as arguably one of the hottest teams in the conference. Since falling at Amherst by a 5-3 decision on Feb. 2, the Camels went on to win five of their last six outings, the lone loss coming in overtime to Babson on Friday.

The Lord Jeffs were victorious in the only other meeting between these two squads this season, a 4-1 decision in the semifinals of the John Dunham Tournament on Nov. 24. Amherst will be looking to reach the NESCAC semifinals for the second consecutive year, while Connecticut hopes to make the semifinals for the first time in program history.

Amherst’s victory over Williams marked the 299th win of head coach Jack Arena’s career, as he will attempt to become just the 18th coach in the history of Division III men’s hockey to reach the 300-win mark. Arena has posted a 299-268-40 (.526) record in his 25 seasons with the Lord Jeffs, and is the 15th winningest active Division III coach in terms of victories.

Also chasing a milestone is senior co-captain Kyle Schoppel (Cambridge, ON), who enters the weekend with 97 career points. Schoppel has tallied 14 goals and assisted on six others this year for the Jeffs’ third highest point total. Leading the Amherst attack will be junior Joel Covelli (Carlisle, ON), whose 11 goals and 19 assists make him the team’s points leader. Covelli has combined for three assists in the Jeffs’ two victories over the Camels during the regular season.

Quarterfinals - Saturday, March 1
No. 8 Wesleyan at No. 1 Colby – 4 p.m.
No. 7 Williams at No. 2 Middlebury – 4 p.m.
No. 6 Trinity at No. 3 Bowdoin – 4 p.m.
No. 5 Connecticut at No. 4 Amherst – 4 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 8 at Highest Remaining Seed
1 p.m./4 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 9
1 p.m.