HARTFORD, Conn. – Senior co-captain Andrew Kurlandski scored twice, including the game-winner 6:36 into the third period, to lead the second-seeded Amherst men's ice hockey team to a 3-1 win over third-seeded Williams in the NESCAC Semifinals at Trinity College's Williams Rink in the Koeppel Community Sports Center.
The Jeffs, ranked No. 15 nationally in the D3hockey.com poll, improve to 16-7-3 and will play in the NESCAC Finals tomorrow at 2 p.m. against the winner of today's Trinity/Bowdoin game. A year removed from the championship game, Amherst returns for the fourth time in program history and looks to capture its third crown. Williams sees its season likely end with a 15-8-3 mark.
George Hunkele '17 started the scoring 6:43 into the first period with a Williams goal and was assisted by Nick Anderson '14 and Craig Kitto '15. Hunkele used nifty stick work to sneak the puck past Jeff goalie Dave Cunningham '16.
Amherst answered immediately with a tally by Conor Brown '16 from Brian Safstrom '14 8:11 into the first. Brown's goal came on a back-handed shot off a rebound. Amherst put 14 pucks on net in the first 20 minutes, but the game remained knotted at 1-1 entering the second frame. Cunningham turned away several Williams' shots during an Eph power play late in the period, including a point-blank bid by Kitto with 6:30 on the clock.
After a scoreless second period that saw Williams pepper Cunningham with 20 shots on goal to no avail and the Jeffs counter with 13 shots on Eph goalie Sean Dougherty '15, Kurlandski broke a 38:25 scoring drought to give Amherst a 2-1 edge. During a 5x3 opportunity, the senior converted on helpers by Brown and Jake Turrin '15.
On another Jeff power play, Kurlandski scored an insurance goal on a one-timer from Aaron Deutsch '15 and Michael Cashman '15 with 3:05 remaining. Williams pulled Dougherty with one minute on the clock, but Cunningham stopped two more in the final 60 seconds.
Cunningham made 37 saves in goal for Amherst while Dougherty finished with 41 saves for Williams. The teams combined for 43 penalty minutes, but Amherst held the Ephs without a goal on four power plays while scoring on half of its four chances with the extra skater.