Athletics

Jeffs Edged Out by No. 9 Williams, 1-0

cunningham action.jpgContact: Ben Badua

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AMHERST, Mass. – Despite 28 saves from sophomore goaltender Dave Cunningham, the 12th-ranked Amherst men’s hockey team fell to archrival No. 9 Williams College in Orr Rink, 1-0.

The Ephs’ Matt Doyle ’14 netted the game’s lone goal 2:08 into the third period as Williams remained unbeaten in NESCAC play (4-0-2) while moving to 5-0-2 overall. Suffering its first loss in conference action (6-2-0, 5-1-0 NESCAC), Amherst will take a break for the holidays before returning to action in the New Year against Plymouth State at the Norwich Savings Bank Classic on Jan. 3.

Scoreless after the first 20 minutes, Williams opened the second period on the power play. Nearly taking the lead, Nick Anderson ’14 caught Cunningham out of position on a rebound try, but could not capitalize on the empty net, sending the shot wide. With just over 13 minutes to go in the middle frame, Mike Rowbotham ’15 generated a quality scoring chance for Amherst, but Eph netminder Sean Dougherty ’15 made a nice stop from point-blank range to keep the Jeffs off the board.

Moments later, Craig Kitto ’15 broke in alone on the Amherst net, but Cunningham made a sliding pad save to deny the forward the go-ahead goal. With just over seven and a half minutes left in the period, Williams’ Greg Johnson ’16 rattled a shot from the blue line off the right post.

Coming right back, Amherst’s Jake Turrin ’15 just missed on another golden opportunity to break through, hitting the pipe on a backhander from between the circles. In the waning moments of the period, the Jeffs raced forward on an odd-man rush, but Dougherty made a glove save on sophomore Conor Brown’s breakaway chance before turning away senior Brian Safstrom’s rebound attempt.

Outshooting Amherst over the first two periods, Williams broke through early in the third. Holding the puck at the left point, Johnson threw the puck toward the net. Redirecting the shot in front, Doyle tipped it past Cunningham at 2:08 to stake the visitors to a 1-0 lead.

Breaking out of its defensive zone, Amherst nearly tied the game with just under 13 and a half minutes remaining in regulation. Charging toward the back-post on a 2-on-1, Topher Flanagan ’16 looked to have an open net with Dougherty sprawling on the ice, but the sophomore rang a shot off the pipe, just missing a chance at the equalizer.

Still down a goal in the waning moments of regulation, Amherst pulled Cunningham for an extra skater with just over a minute on the clock, but could not put a shot on goal, allowing Williams to take the first of two regular season meetings. The Ephs finished with a 29-18 shot advantage, while both teams combined to go 0-for-7 on the power play. Cunningham made 28 saves in the loss, while Dougherty had 18 stops.