Safstrom Powers Jeffs Past Hamilton, 5-2
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. – Brian Safstrom ’14 had two goals and an assist to lead the Amherst men’s hockey team to a decisive 5-2 season-opening win over Hamilton College.
Outshot 8-6 in the opening period, the Jeffs held an 18-13 shot advantage over the final two frames to finish with a 24-21 edge.
Unable to take advantage of a pair of early power plays, Amherst dug the puck out of its own corner before racing up ice with just over five and a half to go in the first. Bringing it up the right side, Topher Flanagan ’16 centered a pass to a charging Conor Brown ’16, who back-handed a hard shot past Hamilton senior goaltender Joe Quattrocchi for the Jeffs’ first tally of the season.
Shorthanded minutes later, Andrew Kurlandski ’14 created a turnover at the Amherst blue line. Breaking in alone on net, the forward nearly added to the home team’s lead, but a hustling Continental defender dove and poked the puck away before Kurlandski could put a try on goal to keep Hamilton within one heading into the first intermission.
Playing a man down, the Jeffs created a couple of scoring chances early in the second period. Finding himself alone in front, Safstrom tried to stuff a shot inside the right post, but Quattrocchi made a sprawling pad save. Later coming forward on an odd-man rush, Safstrom fired a wrister just wide.
Bursting out of the Hamilton zone, Kenny Matheson ’16 generated the Continentals’ first good scoring opportunity, but Amherst goalie Dave Cunningham ’16 stacked his pads and stonewalled the forward’s breakaway to preserve the Jeff margin. In end-to-end action, Safstrom got his own breakaway chance moments later, but Quattrocchi was again there to make the stop.
Taking advantage of its third power play opportunity of the game, Amherst added to its cushion at the 6:03 mark of the second. Finding open space on the left post, Safstrom finally solved Quattrocchi, netting his first goal of the year with a shot tucked into the near side. Getting one back with under eight minutes to play in the middle period, Hamilton’s Robbie Gardiner ’16 found Robbie Murden ’17 in front. Quickly going to goal, the first-year slipped a shot past Cunningham at 12:45 to cut the visitors’ deficit in half.
Going on its second man-up opportunity of the final frame, Amherst looked to pad its cushion. Holding the puck at the blue line, Aaron Deutsch ’15 slid a pass to Mike Rowbotham ’15. One-timing a shot from the right circle, the junior staked the Jeffs to a 3-1 lead. Four minutes later, Safstrom put away his second of the day, hammering home a rebound in front to make it a three-goal game with just over 10 minutes to play.
Cutting into the deficit, Hamilton converted a power play opportunity with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. Carrying puck on the left side, Matheson slotted a cross-ice pass to Mike DiMare ’14. Waiting on the back-post, the senior beat Cunningham on the short side at 13:52.
Keeping the pressure on, the Continentals put a pair of shots on net inside of the four-minute mark, but could not get one by Amherst’s sophomore goaltender . Unable to pull closer despite a late power play, Hamilton pulled its goalie, only to have the Jeffs close out the scoring with a Brown empty netter with 53 seconds left on the clock.
Cunningham and Quattrocchi each finished with 19 saves, as the teams combined for 13 penalties.