Amherst vs. Williams Preview
Contact: Ben Badua
Amherst (8-7-1, 6-3-1 NESCAC) vs. Williams (8-9-1, 4-5-1 NESCAC)
PINK IN THE RINK
Saturday’s contest against Williams marks Amherst’s inaugural Pink in the Rink event. The Jeffs are teaming up with the rival Ephs to join the battle against breast cancer and encourage all fans in attendance to replace their Amherst or Williams purple with pink. In addition to an exciting afternoon of NESCAC hockey, fans can participate in a player meet and greet, raffle, bake sale and more. Opening faceoff is slated for 3 p.m.
Going just 1-25-1 in the first 27 meetings with Williams dating back to 1994, Amherst has turned things around since 2006, winning each of the past 12 matchups. The Lord Jeffs took both of last season’s games in Williamstown, defeating the Ephs 5-1 on Feb. 3, 2012 before once again upending their archrivals, 1-0, the following afternoon. Eleven different Jeffs factored into the scoring in the first of two showdowns, while Courtney Baranek ’15 capped off the weekend set by netting the lone goal in Saturday’s affair 14:20 into the third period.
THE STORY SO FAR
Opening the year 1-3-0, Amherst won six of its next seven, including four in a row. Scoring 3.7 goals-per-game, the Jeffs were clicking offensively during a month-long stretch beginning in early December, while surrendering just 1.5 goals against. The Purple & White have come back down to earth of late, going just 1-3-1 over their last five outings, seeing their scoring average drop by two goals (1.4 gpg), with their goals against swelling to 2.2 gpg.
Lacking the depth it’s enjoyed in recent years, Amherst has struggled to close out games this season, getting outscored 25-15 in the third period, despite holding a 26-17 scoring margin over the first two frames. The Jeffs have thrived when playing ahead, posting a 7-0-0 mark when scoring first, while going just 1-7-1 when surrendering the first goal.
Starting the season with a 6-3-0 mark, Williams has slowed during the second half of 2012-13, posting a 2-6-1 record since Jan. 8. Goals have been hard to come by during the recent swoon with the Ephs netting just 1.2 gpg, while surrendering 2.9 per contest during the stretch.
Like their rivals, Williams has also struggled in the final 20 minutes, getting outscored 21-8 during the third period. Piecing together a 7-1-0 mark when leading after the first two frames, the Ephs are winless at 0-6-0 when trailing entering the third and are just 1-2-1 when tied after two.
The fourth-highest scoring offense in the NESCAC (2.62 gpg), Amherst features three players ranked among the league leaders in points, led by Geneva Lloyd ’13, who leads the nation in defenseman scoring. With 19 points on the season, Lloyd sits tied for fifth in the league in both goals (9) and assists (10), while recording a goal and two assists in the Jeffs’ last three games.
Tori Salmon ’15, who sits tied for ninth in scoring with 15 points, gives Amherst some added punch, dishing out the third most assists in the conference (11), while tallying a goal and assist against Conn. College last Sunday, including the game winner 56 seconds into overtime. Megan Doyen ’13 has also enjoyed a stellar season, recording 12 points on eight goals and four assists.
Gabrielle Vukasin ’14 headlines a Williams offense that averages just 1.89 goals-per-game. Ranking among the league leaders in points (13), the junior sits tied for fifth in the NESCAC in goals (9), while tallying two scores and an assist in her last five outings. Sam Weinstein ’13, who has notched three goals and two assists in the Ephs’ last five games, sits second on the team in scoring with four goals and seven assists, while Cristina Bravi ’14 has complied 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in 15 games.
Sixth in the NESCAC in scoring defense (2.69 gpg), Amherst has yet to record a shutout this season, giving up 10 goals in their last four games. During a 6-1-0 stretch earlier this year, the Jeffs held their opponents to one goal or less in each of those wins, with a 1.5 goals-against during that span. Kerri Stuart ’14 has recorded the majority of the minutes for Amherst in net (724:20), posting a 6-4-1 record with a 2.65 GAA and .892 save percentage.
Giving up nearly three goals per game over its last nine outings, Williams enters the weekend set fresh off a 5-0 loss to Bowdoin. Chloe Billadeau ’15 and Rachel Nguyen ’14 have split time in net for the Ephs, with Billadeau getting the bulk of the minutes (709:25). With a 5-6-1 record, the junior has recorded a 2.71 GAA and .905 save percentage, while Nguyen has gone 3-3-0, with a 1.78 goals-against and .925 save percentage.
Boasting the league’s second-most efficient power play (24.0), Amherst has thrived on the man-advantage all season, converting 12-of-50 attempts. The Jeffs have been especially effective of late, scoring on eight of their last 21 power plays (38.1). Doyen has sparked the Amherst unit all year, leading the country in power play scoring with six goals.
While the Ephs have struggled to score on the man advantage, going zero for its last nine and one for its last 19, the penalty kill has steadily climbed the charts, currently ranking third in the NESCAC (87.7). Williams has not allowed a power play goal in the last four games (0-for-18), while holding opponents to a 1-for-22 clip in the last five outings.