Comeback Falls Short, Jeffs Lose Wild One to Trinity

Contact: Matthew Hart


AMHERST, Mass. – Juniors Brian Safstrom and Andrew Kurlandski scored in the final three minutes to bring the Amherst College men’s hockey team one goal away from a dramatic comeback, but Trinity College held on, ending a wild final stretch with a pair of empty-net goals as the visiting Bantams won, 7-4, earning a sweep of the season series at Orr Rink Saturday.

Safstrom scored twice and added an assist for Amherst (11-5-2, 7-4-1 NESCAC), his first tally evening the score 2-2 early in the second period. But Will Gray ’14 gave Trinity (10-4-3, 7-2-3 NESCAC) a lead late in the same frame and first-years Joe Horak and John Hawkrigg added Bantam insurance tallies in the opening ten minutes of the third to set up the chaotic finish.

Seven different Trinity players found the back of the Amherst net while Johnny Van Siclen ’13 also tallied for the hosts, his first-period goal giving the Jeffs their only lead before Conor Coveney ’15 equalized late in the frame and Zachary Lombardi ’13 put Trinity up 2-1 in the opening minute of the second.

Controlling play for the bulk of the opening period, Amherst broke through with just under seven minutes remaining in the frame as Van Siclen struck for the third time in two days, jamming in his own rebound from close range for his team-best 11th tally of the year. As was the case on both of the senior’s goals Friday, Conor Brown ’16 and Mike Moher ’13 earned assists.

With play evening out over the period’s final five minutes, Trinity equalized with 1:23 to go as Coveney ripped a mid-range shot that Dave Cunningham ’16 deflected in net for Amherst. The rebound came back to the Bantam sophomore, however, who controlled nicely and beat the Jeff rookie from the right post for an unassisted marker, his second of the season.

Carrying momentum into the second, Trinity grabbed a 2-1 lead just 45 seconds into the frame when Lombardi beat Cunningham from the top of the left circle for his fifth of the year. Jackson Brewer ’15 and Gray earned assists on the play.

It didn’t take long for Amherst to respond, however, as Safstrom cashed in on the power play at the 4:29 mark. Kurlandski sent a quick pass into the middle from the left circle and the junior was there to finish with a strong wrist shot from mid-range. In addition to Kurlandski’s helper, Mike Rowbotham ’15 notched his team-leading 13th assist on the equalizer.

Moments later, Amherst appeared to take the lead as Daniel Merenich ’15 sent in his own rebound but the goal was waived off as the puck had deflected off the Amherst forward’s glove.

It was Trinity instead that would take the next lead as Gray picked off an errant Amherst pass and finished off the breakaway, tallying his fourth of the year and giving the Bantams a 3-2 edge with 6:22 remaining in the second.

Moments later, Van Siclen nearly brought Amherst even, breaking free on the left side with some nifty stick work and firing a hard shot from mid-range, but Ben Coulthard ’14 made a terrific glove save to keep Trinity on top heading into the final frame.

Continuing to pressure the Amherst defense, Trinity added insurance less than three minutes into the third as Horak popped in a close-range rebound after a shot by Ben Hjalmarsson ’16. The Bantams further padded the lead just before the midway mark as John Hawkrigg ended Cunningham’s day with his third of the year, breaking free for an unassisted tally from close range.

Not giving up, Amherst pulled within two with under three minutes to go as Safstrom tallied his second of the day and sixth of the year, finishing from close range with assists going to Aaron Deutsch ’15 and James Hawkrigg ’13. Just 43 seconds later, Safstrom and Brandon Hew ’13 assisted Kurlandski, whose hard wrist shot from the left dot brought the Amherst crowd back to life in hopes of a miracle comeback.

Pulling Nathan Corey ’13 in the final 90 seconds, however, the Jeffs couldn’t manage a final tally as empty net goals from Trinity’s Larry Bero ’14 and Charlie Mullan ’14 iced the win.

The physical affair saw 15 total penalties awarded, with Amherst posting a 1-for-5 mark on the power play while Trinity overcame a 0-for-5 showing. The Jeffs finished with a 31-26 edge in shots, but Coulthard made 27 stops for the Bantams, including 11 in the third. Cunningham finished with 14 saves for Amherst and Corey stopped five in his late shift.

The Jeffs head to Maine next weekend, beginning with a 7 p.m. battle at Bowdoin on Friday, Feb. 1.