December 12, 2011

            The Middlebury College men’s hockey team ended its semester with a 4-3 loss at Amherst in overtime. Brian Safstrom broke a 3-3 tie just 32 seconds into the extra session to lift the #14 Jeffs to a hard-fought win over #8 Middlebury at Orr Rink.

Improving to 7-1-0 on the season, the Jeffs remain the conference’s only remaining unbeaten team, moving to 5-0-0 in NESCAC play. Middlebury dropped to 4-3-1 overall and 4-2-0 in league action with the loss.

            Wanting to stake Amherst to an early lead, Mark Colp evaded a pair of Panthers outside the left circle before moving toward goal and testing senior goalie John Yanchek (Hillsborough, N.J.) with a backhanded shot just minutes into the first period.

Breaking out of the defensive zone, Middlebury senior Charles Nerbak (Martinsville, N.J.) ripped a shot from the left side that found the pads of Amherst goaltender Jonathan La Rose. With the Lord Jeff senior unable to control the rebound, junior Trevor Pollock (Sunderland, Vt.) tracked down the loose puck before slotting his first goal of the season inside the right post to put the visitors on top 5:04 into the period.

Looking to respond, Amherst’s Erik Hansen carried the puck into the left side of the Middlebury zone with a defenseman on his hip. Turning the corner and coming across the face of the goal, Hansen beat Yanchek, sneaking a shot between the goaltender’s left pad and the right pipe 11:36 into the frame.

Minutes later, Aaron Deutsch skated toward the front of the Middlebury cage before finding the stick of a trailing Dylan Trumble, who one-timed his second score in as many games into the back of the Panther net at 13:32.

            Trying to set the tone at the start of the second period, Middlebury sophomore Mike Longo (Morristown, N.J.) fired a shot from point-blank range that prompted a La Rose save. Again finding his way to a loose puck in front, Pollock buried his second tally of the afternoon just 1:35 into the stanza, knotting the game at 2-2.

Carrying it into the neutral zone in hopes of regaining momentum, Amherst’s Johnny Van Siclen found Colp, who flicked a backhand toward net from the left circle that trickled past the goal line for the Jeffs’ third goal 8:09 into the stanza.

With Amherst on the doorstep of adding to their tally while on a power play in the closing minutes of the second, Yanchek made a pair of big stops in the waning moments of a Lord Jeffs’ man-up advantage, keeping Middlebury within one heading into the final frame.

Getting outshot by a slim 19-18 margin over the course of the first two periods, Middlebury started the third with a two-man advantage by virtue of a pair of late Amherst penalties, but the Lord Jeffs bore down, surrendering just one shot on goal during that span to preserve their 3-2 lead.

Continuing to stay aggressive shortly after their power play expired, the Panthers suddenly pulled even when Nerbak slipped the equalizer just inside the left post 1:53 into the third period.

On the power play with under eight to play, Amherst nearly pulled back out in front when Nick Brunette rattled a hard wrist shot off the left post. A couple minutes later, Longo looked to be in alone on goal but Amherst’s Jamie Hawkrigg made a nice poke-check from behind to disrupt the play before the Middlebury forward could put a shot on goal.

            Still knotted at 3-3 at the end of regulation, both teams headed into a five-minute extra session with hopes of notching the game winner. Panther senior Martin Drolet (Montreal, Que.) registered the overtime’s first try with a hard, rising slap shot from the left side.

Undaunted, Amherst came right back down the ice, with Andrew Kurlandski ripping a shot at the Middlebury cage. After Yanchek made the initial stop, a persistent and opportunistic Safstrom hammered home the clincher, stuffing it inside the left post for his third goal of the season.

The Lord Jeffs finished with a 30-27 shot advantage finishing 0-2 on the power play while holding the Panthers to 0-5 with the man-up advantage. La Rose tallied 27 saves en route to his sixth victory while Yanchek made 23 stops in the loss.

Joe Quattrocchi stopped all 31 shots he faced to lead Hamilton College to a 3-0 upset over Middlebury at Hamilton's Russell Sage Rink on Friday night.

Sam Choate tallied the second goal of his Hamilton career. Anthony Scarpino  scored a goal for his 50th career point, and Anthony Ruberto scored the Continentals' third goal. Phil DiDonato recorded the first two assists of his career, and Andrew White, Andrew Jelinek and BJ Lalonde chipped in one apiece.

Middlebury was 8-0-1 in its last nine games against Hamilton. The Continentals last defeated the Panthers on Feb. 5, 2005, and the last time they shut out the Panthers was during the 1938-39 season.

Hamilton had a good opportunity to take the lead with a 2-on-1 chance at 6:56 of the first period, but a save from Yanchek ensured the game would remain scoreless through the first intermission. Yanchek finished the game with 33 saves for the Panthers.

Middlebury had a good chance to score following two Hamilton penalties in 1:07 early in the second period, but the Continentals were able to kill both to keep the game scoreless.

After a five-minute major penalty against Middlebury at 6:28 of the period, the Continentals got on the board with a power-play goal at 10:57. Jelinek played the puck from behind the Panthers' net to Lalonde at the point for a slap shot that Choate redirected past Yanchek.

Hamilton doubled its lead with 4:17 left in the period when Scarpino netted a short-handed goal. DiDonato picked up a loose puck on the left side of center ice and fed a pass to Scarpino, who carried it across the blue line and fired a wrist shot from above the right circle that sailed into the top left corner of the net. The Continentals led 2-0 at the second intermission.

The Panthers had another 5-on-3 advantage following two Hamilton penalties within 42 seconds midway through the third period, but the Continentals successfully killed both and maintained their 2-0 lead. A shot by Drolet that would have cut the Panthers' deficit in half banged off the crossbar with about 11 minutes to play.

Ruberto closed the scoring for Hamilton with 5:07 remaining when he took a feed up the left side from White, skated past a Middlebury defender, and beat Yanchek. DiDonato was also credited with an assist on the play.

The Continentals held a 36-31 shot advantage, and were 1-for-4 on the power play. The Panthers were 0-for-8.
• Men’s Hockey record: 4-3-1
• Up next: 12/31 – Host Holiday Classic – 1/4:00