#5 Amherst Responds with 2-1 Win Over #9 Middlebury

Courtney Hanlon '11 scored the game-winner in the third
period against No. 9 Middlebury this afternoon.

AMHERST, MA – For the second time in as many days, two of the top teams in Division III met at Orr Rink as the Panthers of Middlebury College and the Amherst College Lord Jeffs squared off in women’s ice hockey action. 5th-ranked Amherst  (7-4-2/6-1-1 NESCAC) broke a tie late in the third period for a 2-1 win, handing No. 9 Middlebury (8-3-1/7-1-1) its first conference loss of the season.

Amherst dominated early portions of season’s first meeting between the two sides last night, out-shooting Middlebury by a 23-10 edge through 40 minutes. Neither team was able to break through before the second intermission, and the Panthers turned momentum in their favor in the third stanza. Middlebury scored two goals in the middle of the final frame, and added an empty-netter in the final seconds to take the game 3-0.

Today’s game started off in nearly identical fashion, with Amherst out-shooting Middlebury 14-5 in shots on net in the opening period. Once again, Lord Jeff netminder Caroline Hu (Cerritos, CA) matched Panther goaltender Alexi Bloom to post a scoreless first period.

After killing off a penalty early in the second period, Amherst caught a break 7:48 into the frame on a power play of its own. After working the puck between Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT) and Ashley Salerno (Brunswick, ME) near the blue line, Salerno fired a shot into traffic that changed course as it deflected off a Panther defender’s shin guard, beating Bloom. Amherst junior Josie Fisher (Norwich, VT) won’t appear in the box score, but she was present on the crease causing all sorts of problems for Bloom and the Middlebury defense as the goal was scored. Barrett McBride (Glenview, IL) picked up the second assist on the game's first score.

With 3:10 to play in the second, Middlebury grabbed an equalizer against the run of play. After holding Amherst off in its own zone, the Panthers scored on a scramble in front of the net following a shot that went wide and caromed back towards the goal mouth. Lauren Greer scored the equalizer, pushing the puck over Hu’s left leg pad. Assists on the goal were awarded to Julia Ireland and Madison Styrbicki.

13:20 into the third period, Amherst rookie Courtney Baranek (West Babylon, NY) broke free and was hauled down from behind to give the Jeffs a crucial power play. Less than halfway into the power play, Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) scooped up a puck behind the Middlebury net and curled around the net to beat Bloom with the wrap-around for a 2-1 lead. Grabbing the helpers on Hanlon's score were McBride and Ellen Swiontkowski (Minnetonka, MN).

The Hanlon score proved to be the difference in the game, as the Lord Jeffs held off a late push by the Panthers for a second equalizer. Hu and the defense stood strong, as the Amherst goaltender finished the night with 15 saves. Bloom made 25 saves in the loss, just her second defeat of the year.

Amherst will return to action midweek as Saint Anselm College comes to town on Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. non-conference tilt.