Amherst's Landers Named NESCAC Player of the Year; Four Jeffs and Coach Grab Honors

From a NESCAC Release

Senior captain Jeff Landers was named the Player of the Year.
HADLEY, MA - Amherst senior defenseman Jeff Landers (Hanover, Mass.) has been selected as the 2009 NESCAC Player of the Year, as determined by the conference coaches. Landers’ torrid scoring pace over the second half of the season helped the Lord Jeffs finish atop the NESCAC standings this year, as his team captured the top seed in the 2009 NESCAC Men’s Ice Hockey Championship for the first time in tournament history. Landers is the second Lord Jeff to earn the conference’s top honor this decade after fellow blue liner Jim Smith came away with the award in 2001.

An All-Conference Second Team selection a year ago, Landers also found a spot on the First Team in addition to being named Player of the Year. Landers is having a career season on the ice for the Lord Jeffs, shattering his previous mark of 22 points over the last two winters with a personal -best eight goals and 27 assists for a team-leading 35 points, just nine points shy of 100 over his tenure at Amherst. It may come as little surprise that Landers is at or near the top of multiple statistical categories in the league this season. Landers’ 35 points lead all conference blue liners and rank second among all skaters, while his 27 helpers hold the top spot in assists. He has also contributed a league-leading 19 points on the power-play (3-16-19) as Amherst’s extra-attacker unit currently hums along at a NESCAC-best 25.4-percent conversion rate. The Jeffs have been one of the hottest teams in the country during the second half of the 2008-09 campaign. After falling in the title game of the St. Michael’s tournament on Jan. 3, Amherst has gone 15-1-0 heading into this weekend’s conference semifinals and Landers has posted 31 of his 35 points during that span, averaging nearly two points per game with 10 multi-point outings while being held scoreless only twice.

Landers may be getting the bulk of the attention for his point production this season, however a big part of the Lord Jeffs’ success can be found just a bit farther back on the ice. Joining Landers on the First Team from Amherst was sophomore goaltender Cole Anderson (Eckville, Alberta), a first time honoree. Anderson has platooned in net with classmate Jonathan La Rose (Boyle, Alberta), who earned Second Team recognition for the second-straight year, and the tandem have combined to anchor the Amherst defense as the Lord Jeffs have allowed a Division III-low 1.50 goals per game this season. At 9-3-1 with one shutout, Anderson boasts a 1.45 goals against average and a .955 save percentage to lead all NESCAC netminders. Anderson made a career-high 54 saves during a 4-3 win over Middlebury on Feb. 20, a victory that not only gave the Jeffs their first win over the Panthers since the 1999-2000 season but also secured the number-one seed in this year’s NESCAC championship.

Junior forward Keith Nelson (Manalapan, N.J.) was the final representative from Amherst to garner All-NESCAC, as the Lord Jeffs led all programs with three First Team members. Nelson is in the midst of his best season wearing an Amherst sweater, ranking second only to Landers among his teammates with five goals and 20 assists (3rd NESCAC) for 25 points (9th). Part of the Jeffs’ top power-play and penalty killing units, Nelson has contributed two goals and 10 assists on the power-play while helping Amherst kill off a league-leading 90.6-percent of man-down situations.

Coach of the Year went to Amherst’s Jack Arena. Arena, a 1983 graduate of the college now in his 26th season behind the bench for the Lord Jeffs, has guided his team to a 19-4-1 overall mark - just one win shy of setting a new program record - along with the top seed in this year’s NESCAC championship. It is the first time that Arena has received the league’s coaching honor.

First Team
F      Martin Drolet      Middlebury     Fr.    Lachine, Quebec
F      Jamie McKenna      Middlebury     Sr.    Lake Placid, N.Y.
F      Keith Nelson       Amherst        Jr.    Manalapan, N.J.
D      Jeff Landers ^     Amherst        Sr.    Hanover, Mass.

D      Justin Troiani     Williams       Fr.    Woodbridge, Ontario
G      Cole Anderson      Amherst        So.    Eckville, Alberta

Player of the Year:  Jeff Landers, Amherst
Rookie of the Year:  Martin Drolet, Middlebury
Coach of the Year:  Jack Arena, Amherst

Second Team

F     Trevor Bradley      Conn       Jr.    West Hartford, Conn.
F     Tom Derosa          Tufts    So.    Charlestown, Mass.
F     Adam Houli          Trinity  So.    Howell, N.J.
F     Alex Smigelski      Williams Jr.    Mountain Lakes, N.J.
D     Chris Diozzi        Trinity  Sr.    Belmont, Mass.
D     Kyle Shearer-Hardy  Bowdoin  So.    Montreal, Quebec
G     Jonathan La Rose ^  Amherst  So.    Boyle, Alberta
* - 2007-08 All-Conference First Team 
^ - 2007-08 All-Conference Second Team