Jeffs Headed to Frozen Four With 3-1 Win Over Plattsburgh
Contact: Ben Badua
Eddie Effinger '12 had two goals in Amherst's 3-1 win over Plattsburgh.
AMHERST, Mass. - On the strength of three, second period goals, the second-ranked Amherst men’s hockey team punched its ticket to the Frozen Four with a 3-1 win over SUNY Plattsburgh at Orr Rink.
Winners of 12-straight, Amherst improved to 24-3-1 on the season and will advance to the national semifinals for the first time in program history when it travels to Lake Placid, N.Y. on Friday, Mar. 16 to face SUNY Oswego.
Making an NCAA-record 20th appearance in the Division III Championship, Plattsburgh dropped to 22-20-8 all-time in Tournament play, while closing out the year with a 19-5-4 overall mark.
Looking to take the home crowd out of the game early, Plattsburgh wasted no time getting on the board, netting the game’s first score just three minutes in, when Alex Jensen ’15 put way a loose puck after a scramble in front for his sixth goal of the year.
Hoping to regain the momentum midway through the frame, Amherst’s Brian Safstrom ’14 (Woodinville, Wash.) registered the Jeffs’ first good scoring chance, ripping a hard wrister from the left circle that found the pads of sophomore goaltender Mathieu Cadieux.
Skating forward with under five minutes left in the opening period, Mike Cashman ’15 (Abington, Mass.) again tested Cadieux with a shot from between the circles on a 3-on-2 break, but the Cardinal goalie calmly turned the try away to preserve the Plattsburgh lead through the first 20 minutes.
Beginning to gain traction in the latter half of the first, Amherst continued to go on the offensive to start the middle frame before finally breaking through at 6:28, when a trailing Eddie Effinger ’12 (Belleville, Ill.) lifted a hard wrist shot from the left circle over Cadieux’s shoulder for his ninth tally of the year.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Jeffs pulled in front, as Aaron Deutsch ’15 (Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.) flicked a shot from the left point that found its way through a screen and into the top right corner of the Plattsburgh net.
Drawing a penalty less than two minutes later, Amherst looked to pad its lead as Deutsch ripped another long shot from just inside the blue line toward the Cardinal cage. Making the initial stop on the try from the point and junior Mike Moher’s (Toronto, Ontario) rebound attempt, Cadieux momentarily kept the Amherst attack at bay, but the loose puck would trickle to the back post, where a waiting Effinger buried his second goal of the evening.
Needing to get something going in the final period, Plattsburgh senior Vick Schlueter found open space in front just 1:15 into the third, but lifted his shot over the crossbar, narrowly missing a chance to cut the Jeff deficit in half.
With under 16 to play, first year Michael Cassidy and Patrick Jobb ’13 hacked away at several chances from point blank range on the doorstep of the Amherst crease, but senior goaltender Jonathan La Rose (Boyle, Alberta) turned away each try before smothering the puck to keep the Cardinals off the board.
Earning a power play opportunity with just 5:31 on the clock, Plattsburgh pushed into the offensive zone, creating a couple more scoring opportunities, but La Rose was up to the challenge, keeping everything in front of him to seal the Lord Jeff win.
La Rose, who has been lights out the second half of the season, going 12-0 while stopping 320 of the last 330 shots he faced entering tonight’s contest, was once again stellar in net, making 27 stops en route to his 19th victory, while Cadieux made 26 saves.
The nation’s leader in save percentage (.943), La Rose is now 2-0 in NCAA Tournament play, turning away 75-of-77 shots (.974).
Holding a 29-28 shooting advantage, Amherst closes out the season with an unblemished 14-0 mark at home, having outscored its opponents 55-20 during that stretch.
Clicking in all three facets of the game, Amherst’s special teams netted a power play goal for the fourth straight outing, while holding Plattsburgh to an 0-for-3 clip on the man-up advantage. Offensively, the team has averaged 4.2 goals per game over the course of its 12-game win streak, while the nation’s top ranked defensive unit held an opponent to just one goal or less for the fifth time in six games.