Amherst Scores Four Unanswered Goals in Win Over Babson; Jeffs Earn First NCAA Tournament Victory in Program History

Powers2
Senior Brendan Powers scored two goals in Amherst's first ever NCAA Tournament win.
AMHERST, MA – Amherst College trailed for only 36 seconds before scoring four unanswered goals in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship to claim a 4-1 win over Babson College at Orr Rink.

The Lord Jeffs will continue their run at a national title when they host Hobart College on Saturday, Mar. 14 at a time to be determined. Hobart—ranked sixth in the latest USCHO.com national poll—earned a 3-0 win over 13th-ranked Nichols College on Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s result marked the first NCAA Championship win in Amherst history, as the Jeffs’ only other national tournament appearance came in 1999 when they suffered a 7-2 loss to RIT in the quarterfinals.

The Amherst Class of 2009 tied a program record for wins by a graduating class, matching the 62 victories the Class of 2001 racked up in its four years. This year’s senior class is 62-34-6 (.637) as a group.

Amherst (22-4-1) entered the game ranked fourth in the latest USCHO.com national poll, marking the highest ranking in program history. The Jeffs increased their winning streak to 14 games and improved to 12-0-1 at home.

Babson was making its 14th appearance in the NCAA Championships, but the Beavers end their season at 13-14-1 with an ECAC East title to its credit.

Babson hit the post three times and had three power play opportunities in the opening period, but the Beavers could not put the puck in the back of the net. Amherst’s lone power play of the frame came just 24 seconds into the game, but the Jeffs could not capitalize.

The opening five minutes featured several close calls, but none were closer than when first-year Mike Hoban (Medfield, MA) carried the puck around the back of the net, turned and ripped a shot from the left face-off circle only to have it clang off of the near post. It was déjà vu 10 minutes into the game and again 14 minutes into the contest when first-year Cody Carlson (Peterborough, NH) and junior Casey Fazekas (Montreal, Quebec) each hit the same post with shots from the same side.

With 4:30 to play in the opening period, Carlson ripped a shot from the left side and elected to give the far post a try this time, but Amherst sophomore netminder Jonathan La Rose (Boyle, Alberta) made a nice glove save. La Rose came up with 16 saves in the first 20 minutes of action, while first-year Andrew Peabody (Marblehead, MA) stopped 13 shots for the Beavers.

After three near-misses in the first period, Babson’s persistence finally paid off when junior Chris Wood (Medford, MA) scored the first goal of the game 9:56 into the second frame. After an Amherst penalty, the Jeffs won the ensuing face-off in their defensive end and cleared the puck the length of the ice. The Beavers regrouped, stormed down the ice and scored on their first shot of the power play, as Wood gave his team a 1-0 lead.

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First-year Eddie Effinger put the game out of reach with a goal late in the third period.
Babson’s lead lasted for a mere 36 seconds, as senior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) tied the game at 1-1 at the 10:32 mark. With a crowd of players in front of the Babson net, Powers’ shot appeared to be stopped by Peabody, but the puck went between the goalie’s legs and trickled across the goal line to put a sudden halt to the Beavers’ momentum.

Amherst took its first lead of the game less than two minutes after Powers netted the equalizer thanks to a perfectly executed 3-on-1 attack by sophomore Matt Rhone (Dedham, MA), senior Rylan Burns (Jasper, Alberta) and senior captain Jeff Landers (Hanover, MA). Rhone received the puck on the left side, dropped it back to Burns at the point, and the NESCAC Player of the Year finished off the beautiful play with a one-timer past Peabody inside the right post.

Landers’ goal would be the period’s last, with Babson trailing 2-1 heading into the second intermission despite holding a 37-32 cumulative edge in shots on goal.

Collins and Powers connected for a second time 6:41 into the third period to give Amherst a 3-1 lead. Collins carried the puck along the right boards and lofted a pass across the ice. The puck made its way through traffic and found Powers, who was there to drill it home for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.

The nail in the coffin was hammered in by first-year Eddie Effinger (Belleville, IL), who gave the Jeffs a comfortable 4-1 advantage with only 3:47 remaining in regulation. Effinger received a perfect pass from behind the net off the stick of senior Joel Covelli (Carlisle, Ontario) and put home a one-timer for his seventh goal of the season.

The Beavers emptied their net but neither team would score again, as Amherst held on for the 4-1 victory to advance to the national quarterfinals. La Rose finished with 48 saves to improve to 12-1-0 on the season, while Peabody stopped 38 shots to wrap up his season at 11-8-0.

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