Jeffs Defeat New England College in Overtime, 3-2

Randi Zukas '11 delivered the game winner in overtime.

By Dan Pozner ’11

AMHERST, MA – Randi Zukas ’11 (Glen Head, NY) blasted home a slap shot with 2:08 remaining in overtime to give the sixth-ranked Amherst College women’s ice hockey team a 3-2 win over New England College Tuesday night at Orr Rink. Amherst looked dominant at both ends of the ice all night but needed overtime to stifle a late comeback attempt by a strong NEC side.

The Lord Jeffs improve to 16-5-2 (13-2-1 NESCAC) on the year, while the loss drops the Pilgrims to 11-7-5 (10-4-3 ECAC East). Zukas finished the night with a goal and two assists, marking the sixth consecutive game in which she has recorded a point.

Amherst put its Division III-best power play unit on display early on. During a 5-on-4 advantage with six minutes to play in the first period, junior Ellen Swiontkowski (Minnetonka, MN) jammed home the rebound off a shot from senior tri-captain Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA), giving the Jeffs a 1-0 lead.

Making her third collegiate start for Amherst, first-year goaltender Kerri Stuart (Tewksbury, MA) came up huge during an NEC power play late in the first when she gloved a high wrist shot that appeared to be heading into the back of the net.

Amherst doubled its lead with 13:37 left in second when Zukas sent a hard slap shot towards net. Junior Erin Babineau (St. Paul, MN) redirected the puck through NEC goalie Teraysa White’s legs, giving the Jeffs a two-goal cushion.

NEC struck back three minutes later when Sam Hippern ripped a slap shot from the blue line that screamed past Stuart’s shoulder and into the top netting, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Amherst dominated the second period with an 11-1 advantage in shots on goal, not counting five attempts that connected with the post or crossbar. White stayed strong in net for the Pilgrims, and the teams headed into the second intermission with Amherst leading 2-1.

Amherst continued to apply the offensive pressure throughout the third period, but it was the Pilgrims who took advantage of a scoring opportunity late in the game. With three minutes remaining in the final frame, NEC forward Chelsea Torrico skated in from behind the Amherst net and sent a shot towards goal that deflected off Stuart’s right pad and trickled over the line, knotting the score at 2-2.

The game headed to overtime, and the Jeffs continued to pepper White with shots. During a delayed penalty opportunity in which Stuart headed to the bench in exchange for an extra skater, first-year Ashley Salerno (Brunswick, ME) fed an awaiting Zukas, who slapped a high shot past White for the 3-2 win.

Stuart finished the night with four saves to improve to 3-0-0 for Amherst, while White turned away an impressive 33 shots for the Pilgrims.

Amherst will look to ride the momentum from tonight’s win on Thursday night when Utica College visits Orr Rink at 7 p.m. New England College hopes to rebound Friday afternoon when it hosts St. Anselm College at 4 p.m.