Amherst to be Featured on USCHO Game of the Week

The Lord Jeffs will be looking to climb back to the
top of the NESCAC standings this weekend.
  AMHERST, MA – This Saturday’s women’s ice hockey game between Amherst and Middlebury colleges is significant on many levels, which is why it will be broadcast live on the Web as the USCHO Game of the Week. This marks the first time a Division III women’s game has been selected by the USCHO since Nov. 18, 2007 when Middlebury hosted fellow national powerhouse Plattsburgh State.  

Fans will be able to watch and listen to the NESCAC’s top two teams battle it out for first place, as neither has lost a conference game thus far. Division III’s all-time leading scorer and 2001 national player of the year Michelle Labbe (Middlebury ’01) will be a guest analyst, with interviews to include Amherst sophomore goaltender Krystyn Elek and head coach Jim Plumer. The live broadcast begins Saturday, Feb. 16 at 2:45 p.m. 

From the Lord Jeffs’ inaugural varsity season (1995-96) to their 5-0 loss to Middlebury during the 2004-05 campaign, the Panthers posted a 15-0 record against Amherst while scoring 119 goals and allowing just five. In the past three meetings, however, the Jeffs have earned a pair of ties and a dramatic victory to bring Middlebury’s reign to a halt.   

After 18 straight losses to the Panthers, the Jeffs took a 2-0 lead over the Panthers into the third period of last year’s regular season match-up in Amherst. Middlebury had tied the game just 50 seconds into the third frame, but Amherst held on for a tie for the first time in program history. The teams met again in the NESCAC finals, which turned out to be the longest women’s hockey game ever played in Division III. Amherst netted the game-winner in the third overtime for the program’s first win over Middlebury and its first conference title, with Elek recording a tournament-record 65 saves.  

This newfound rivalry has already gotten underway this season, as the two teams battled for yet another 2-2 tie in Amherst, with the Jeffs once again carrying a lead into the third period but failing to hang on. Middlebury (16-2-2/10-0-2 NESCAC) is currently the nation’s top-ranked team according to USCHO but is coming off a 3-0 loss to second-ranked Plattsburgh, while Amherst (14-3-3/9-0-3 NESCAC) is notched with RIT in the fifth spot.  

Amherst and Middlebury will potentially play for first place in the NESCAC standings depending on the outcome of Friday night’s games—the Panthers host Connecticut College (6-10-4/4-5-3 NESCAC) and the Jeffs must travel to archrival Williams College (3-15-2/1-10-1 NESCAC). Barring any upsets, the winner of Saturday’s match-up will have sole possession of first place, while a tie would result in Middlebury hanging on to the top spot and Amherst remaining in second.