AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst men's ice hockey team, powered by a three-goal first period, held on to defeat Bowdoin at Orr Rink Saturday afternoon in a thrilling NESCAC match-up, 5-3.
The Jeffs concluded a solid weekend with consecutive league wins to improve to 11-3 in the conference and 13-6-1 overall. After the loss, Bowdoin drops to 7-6-1 in league play and 12-6-2 on the season.
Amherst was quick to strike in Saturday's game. Chris Roll '17, who scored the last Jeff score of the game the night before, found the back of the net at 3:54 of the first period. The first-year forward sent it under the pads of Bowdoin goalie Max Fenkell '15 off assists from Andrew Kurlandski '14 and Mike Rowbotham '15.
Just under four minutes later, the Polar Bears evened the score when Harry Matheson '14 redirected a deflection into the net. Colin Downey '14 was credited with an assist on the play.
At 11:02, Amherst regained the lead when Conor Brown '16 netted his ninth goal of the year with an assist from Brian Safstrom'14. It marked Saftsrom's seventh assist this season.
The Jeffs tacked on another score late in the period when Kevin Ryder '16 sent the puck ahead to Erik Hansen '14, who returned to the ice after serving a penalty. Hansen skated ahead of the Polar Bear defenders to create a 1v1 opportunity. His shot deflected off Fenkell's pads and landed in front of Kurlandski who capitalized with the score as Amherst held a 3-1 lead.
However, Bowdoin retaliated a minute later and cut the deficit to one. Jay Livermore '14 sent a shot towards net that was saved by Jeff goalie Dave Cunningham '16. The puck hit his pads and dropped to the ice when Kyle Lockwood '14 took advantage, scoring Bowdoin's second of the game.
After 10 minutes of scoreless action in the second frame, the Polar Bears evened the score once again. With two Jeffs serving penalties, Bowdoin capitalized on its two-man advantage when Downey one-timed a shot from the front of the net to the right post under the glove of Cunningham. Ryan Collier '15 was responsible for the pass to Downey.
Amherst was held scoreless in the second but took a 4-3 lead at 6:12 of the third frame when Mike Cashman '15 skated down the left side of the ice and sent one to the opposite corner for the score. Theo Hannah '16 was credited with an assist on the eventual game-winner.
In the closing minutes of regulation, Amherst killed a five-minute major penalty and Cunningham made a spectacular save with under two minutes remaining to protect the lead. As the puck crossed in front of the net, John McGinnis '15 attempted to tie the game with Cunningham out of position but the sophomore goalie made a diving glove save. The Jeffs held off a strong surge from the Polar Bears and added an empty-netter from Rowbotham with 16 seconds remaining to take the 5-3 win.
Despite the loss, Bowdoin outshot the home team 33-to-16 and went 1-for-6 on power plays as Amherst finished 0-for-4. However, Cunningham had a strong showing between the posts with 30 saves. Fenkell recorded 11 stops for Bowdoin.
The Jeffs return to the ice on Saturday, Feb. 15 to host Conn. College at 7:30 p.m.