Lord Jeffs Skate to 2-2 Tie with Middlebury College

Sophomore Molly Malloy scored a
goal in the tie.

AMHERST, MA – Two of the nation’s top Division III women’s hockey teams faced off this evening at Orr Rink on the campus of Amherst College, when the seventh-ranked Lord Jeffs hosted the second-ranked Panthers of Middlebury College. Last season the Panthers won the season-opener in the series 1-0, before tying the second contest 2-2. Amherst took the rubber-match in the 2007 NESCAC Championship game 2-1 in triple overtime.

Through the first five minutes of play, it seemed as though both teams were trying to set the tone of the game and be physical. The Panthers continuously knocked Lord Jeff forwards to the ice as Amherst flew around the rink with reckless abandon.

Amherst held an early edge in possession, and fired a number of harmless wrist shots towards Middlebury goaltender Lani Wright. At the 9:39 mark of the first period, Amherst first-year CC Wyshnytzky (Hawthorn Woods, IL) was whistled for hooking, giving the Panthers the first power play of the night.

Middlebury put a handful of long range shots on frame during the two-minute power play, but Amherst goaltender Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC) was up to the task, easily catching every one.

With just under seven minutes remaining in the first period, Amherst had its first significant scoring chance on a transition opportunity. Sophomore Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) was hauled down from behind between the hashes, preventing a better shot.

The Lord Jeffs next scoring chance game from their leader, Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI), with four minutes left in the first period. Karega took a pass to break in alone on Wright. Karega’s shot found a resting place safely in the Panther goaltender’s stomach for a face-off.

At the end of the first period, Middlebury held an 11-8 edge in shots on goal, but a majority of the Panther attempts came on the lone power play.

The Panthers got on the board just five minutes into the second period, on a rebound goal from Nora Bergman. Ashley Bairos picked up an assist with the initial shot. Amherst responded nicely with a flurry of offensive pressure, which led to a pair of Middlebury penalties that overlapped by just two seconds.

Just after the power plays ended, the Lord Jeffs found the equalizer on a similar goal. First-year Megan Curry (Shorewood, MN) took a backhanded shot that was stopped by Wright, allowing sophomore Molly Malloy (Stamford, CT) to flip home the equalizer over the Panther goaltender’s shoulder. Less than a minute later, first-year Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) introduced herself to the renewed rivalry with her second goal in as many games to give Amherst a 2-1 lead. Hanlon’s score beat Wright top shelve as well.

After the early trio of goals, play slowed down a bit heading into the second intermission. Middlebury came flying out of the locker room in the third period again, and tied the game up at 2-2 with a score from quad-captain Tania Kenny. Kenny let a slap shot from the point fly, which snuck past a screened Elek less than three minutes into the frame.

Amherst was handed a crucial power play opportunity with twelve minutes remaining in regulation. Just 1:02 into the power play, Amherst was whistled for holding to set up a 4-on-4 situation. The Lord Jeff defense was up to the challenge, and killed off the ensuing Panther advantage without surrendering a single shot.

With just 4:07 left in the third period, Middlebury’s Marjie Billings was whistled for a hit from behind, setting up another Amherst power play. Amherst was unable to establish the set consistently, and Billings released with just two minutes remaining in regulation.

The last meeting between the two squads went down as the longest game in NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey history, so with regulation ending in a 2-2 tie, the situation seemed fitting.

Unlike the playoff last season, Amherst and Middlebury had just five minutes of extra time to decide a winner before settling for a tie. Neither team had a significant scoring chance in overtime, as the game closed in a 2-2 stalemate.

Amherst moves to 3-0-2, while Middlebury pushes to 3-1-1 on the year. Amherst returns to action tomorrow evening when the Jeffs host NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College at 7:00 p.m.