Jeffs Poised for Success in 2014-15

salmonCOLBY.jpgContact: Chris Attwood

Coming off a season that saw the Amherst College women’s ice hockey team finish second in the NESCAC, third year head coach Jeff Matthews has a young but talented squad that will look to build on last season’s success in 2014-15. The Purple & White features a squad that is comprised of 15 returners and six newcomers, including five seniors and a trio of juniors.

“It’s a building process with each game and each week,” Matthews said of the upcoming season. “We’re excited about the energy that we’ve seen and the focus, and the challenge is to keep that moving forward, and to keep having fun and staying positive.”

Amherst kicks off its season on Sat., Nov. 15 when Amherst welcomes NESCAC foe Hamilton to Orr Rink. The Jeffs then travel to Hamilton the next day, before hosting Wesleyan for a pair of home games on Nov. 21-22. A pair of non-league road games, and two non-conference home tilts complete the 2014 portion of the schedule before the Jeffs have the better part of a month off.

“We have the good fortune of playing in a really strong league,” Matthews said of the NESCAC slate. “There’s absolutely no night off. It’s good hockey from top to bottom, and that’s what makes it fun. When you play in a league like ours, every game is huge. We just take it one game at a time with a daily focus of trying to be better tomorrow than we were today.”

Upon their return from the break, Amherst will play seven straight games on the road, before returning to Amherst with a string of five home games beginning with Salve Regina on Jan. 27. The Jeffs will also host a pair of games against Conn. College and Williams before traveling to Trinity for two games. Amherst then closes out its regular season on Sat. and Sun., Feb. 21-22 with two games against Bowdoin.

Amherst’s contest on Feb. 1 against the Camels also marks the annual “Pink in the Rink” breast cancer awareness fundraiser. All proceeds raised will go to the Cancer Connection in Northampton, Mass.

The Jeffs enter the 2014-15 campaign with depth at every position. At the forward position, the Purple & White is led by captain Madeline Tank ’15 and assistant captain Tori Salmon ’15. Salmon was Amherst’s leader in points last year with 25. She scored a team-high 16 goals and added nine assists en route to her second straight First Team All-NESCAC honor.

Tank added six goals and four assists (10 points) and will look to continue her offensive production. Joining Salmon and Tank up front are junior goal scorers Erin Martin and Eileen Harris. Martin netted 10 goals and dished out 10 assists (20 points), while Harris added six goals and nine assists for 15 points. For her efforts, Martin was named Second Team All-NESCAC.

Added to the mix are senior Emily Flom; sophomores Audrey Duquette and Molly Connolly; as well as first-years Brenna Sullivan, Alex Toupal and Emma Griese. Anne Gillard ’15, Alison Ahn ’17 and Kristen Molina ’18 will add versatility to the group, as all three will help provide depth on both offense and defense.

Anchoring a talented and seasoned defensive unit is senior assistant captain Melissa Martin. She is joined by junior Caroline Bomstein, and a trio of sophomores in Caitlyn Ryan, Camille Herzog, and Lynndy Smith. Ryan was the team’s leading distributer in 2013-14 with 13 assists, while Smith notched 11 points on the strength of three goals and eight assists. Together, the Amherst defense held opponents to just 1.65 goals per game.

In 2014-15, the Purple & White will have to replace Kerri Stuart due to graduation. The Jeffs will look to Yuna Evans ’17, who played 418:11 last season, as well as first-years Bailey Plaman and Sabrina Dobbins. Evans appeared in eight games and turned away 134 of the 140 shots she faced (.957 save percentage) and totaled a 4-1-2 record. All four of her wins were shutouts, and she finished her debut campaign with a stellar 0.86 goals against average.