WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The previously unbeaten Williams men’s hockey team fell in heartbreaking fashion to their archrival Amherst College tonight by a score of 4-1. The Ephs entered the game as the tenth ranked team in division 3, while the Lord Jeffs came in ranked fourteenth. A packed house came to watch the highly anticipated game, and the two teams did not disappoint.
The Ephs came out firing after a nearly month long holiday break. After an Amherst goal was called back due to a high stick early in the contest, the Ephs took control. Captain Alex Smigelski ’10 and freshman John Wickman had huge hits in a very physical period that featured lots of chances for both teams. Sophomore Ryan Purdy had a number of big saves to keep the Lord Jeffs off the board and the teams entered the intermission tied at 0-0.
Amherst began to gather momentum during the second period, but Purdy kept the Lord Jeffs at bay until late in the period. Nick Brunette capitalized on an Ephs turnover behind their own net, scoring with less than three minutes to go in the period off assists from Keith Nelson and Matthew Rhone. Amherst got a huge goal a minute and a half later when Nelson scored on a deflection off a pass from Joe Brock. Trailing 2-0 after giving up two heartbreaking goals, the Ephs showed their resiliency.
The Ephs went on the power play to start the third period, but could not find the back of the net despite a number of good looks. Williams carried that momentum as they peppered Amherst goalie Cole Anderson. Just as things appeared to be going Williams’ way, Smigelski was called for boarding. Brock scored a beautiful goal on an assist from Rhone. The Ephs fought on, however. Following a scrum with 4:30 to go that left Williams with the man advantage, the Ephs pulled Purdy for an extra attacker. The Ephs were rewarded two minutes later when big man Ryan Scott hit the top corner on a rocket slap shot from the point. The Ephs continued to create chances, but were put away on an empty net goal by Trip Wray with 30 seconds to go in the game.
Head Coach Bill Kangas was not too disappointed following the team’s first defeat of the season, saying: “It was a good hockey game. We played hard and fought until the end, but we just weren’t able to take advantage of our opportunities and they were.” He praised Amherst netminder Anderson, saying that “We had quite a few grade A chances, and their goalie came up with some big saves.”
Amherst improves to 8-2 on the season as they take on 8th ranked Middlebury tomorrow. Williams falls to 6-1-1 on the season as they look to rebound tomorrow in a NESCAC contest against Hamilton.