Amherst Secures Top Seed for Second Year In a Row
HADLEY, Mass. – For the second year in a row, Amherst College has earned the top seed in the conference tournament, allowing the Jeffs to play at home for as long as they participate in the 2010 NESCAC Women’s Ice Hockey Championship. Joining Amherst in hosting a quarterfinal contest next Saturday, Feb. 27 will be Trinity, Middlebury and Williams. Winners of Saturday’s quarterfinal action will advance to the semifinals at the highest remaining seed on Saturday, March 6. The 2010 NESCAC Women’s Ice Hockey Championship will conclude on Sunday, March 7.
Amherst (18-2-4, 12-1-3 NESCAC) secured the number one seed just over a week ago thanks to a 6-3 win at rival Williams on Feb. 19. The Jeffs completed the conference slate the following day with a weekend sweep, shutting out the Ephs 8-0. A year ago, the 2009 NCAA champions put together an unblemished 16-0-0 mark in conference play en route to the top seed, however the Jeffs were derailed in their quest for a third consecutive conference title in the tournament final when Middlebury earned a 4-3 overtime decision. Amherst will start things up in the quarterfinals against the only team that handed it a league loss this season, eighth-seeded Colby (3-16-5, 1-12-3 NESCAC). The 3-2 win for the Mules over the Jeffs on Jan. 30 in Waterville not only ended Amherst’s chances at a second-straight unbeaten season, it also proved to be the only win for Colby in conference play this year. Amherst had obtained a 6-2 win over Colby the night before to split the season series. Colby heads into the weekend having lost its last four games, most recently being shutout in back-to-back outings at Williams (3-0) and Middlebury (5-0). The first round contest between these two teams will be the third in playoff history. Colby won the first in the first round of the 2006 tournament, 4-2, before Amherst won the 2008 title game over the Mules, 7-1.
Second-seeded Trinity (19-3-2, 11-3-2 NESCAC) set a few school records during the final weekend of the regular season. Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hamilton gave the Bantams a program-best 19 victories this season along with second place in the conference standings, their highest finish ever. Trinity is arguably one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment, having only dropped two games since the New Year, both by one goal and on the road. The Bantams have been on the rise in the NESCAC over the past few years, finishing third in each of the last two seasons and reaching the semifinals for the first time ever in 2008. Trinity will have an opportunity for revenge on Saturday when it hosts the team that knocked it out of last year’s championship, seventh-seeded Connecticut College (8-14-2, 5-9-2 NESCAC). In what was the first postseason meeting between the two, the Camels upended the Bantams 2-1 last February and advanced to the semifinals for the first time ever. This winter, Trinity handed Connecticut College carbon-copy 5-1 losses, the first coming on Nov. 28 in New London before the second on Friday night in Hartford. The Camels rebound from Friday’s loss to the Bantams on Saturday to cap the regular season with a 7-0 win at Wesleyan, their third victory in the last five games.
Defending champ Middlebury (15-6-3, 11-4-1 NESCAC) came in just behind Trinity in the conference standings, as the Panthers’ 4-2 setback at home to Bowdoin on Friday allowed the Bantams to leap ahead for the second spot. Middlebury bounced back on Saturday afternoon against Colby, posting a 5-0 victory and finishing the regular season 2-2-2 in its last six games. Facing the Panthers in this year’s first round will be the sixth-seeded Continentals of Hamilton (11-10-3, 5-8-3 NESCAC). The Continentals wrapped up the regular season with a pair of splits on the road in Connecticut over the past two weekends, most recently shutting out Wesleyan on Friday, 3-0, before falling to Trinity on Saturday, 2-0. Middlebury and Hamilton each earned a home win during the two-game series this year, as the Panthers won 6-0 on Nov. 21 before the Continentals’ 3-2 decision on Feb. 6 - their first over Middlebury in program history. Saturday’s rubber match will be the second for these two squads in tournament history. Middlebury won the prior meeting in the semifinals of 2007 en route to the conference title. The Panthers have four NESCAC crowns to their credit, more than any other program, and have reached the semifinals every year the tournament has been held.
The final quarterfinal contest will be a rematch of Saturday’s action when fourth-seeded Williams (12-10-2, 9-6-1 NESCAC) hosts fifth-seeded Bowdoin (11-11-2, 8-7-1 NESCAC). The Ephs and the Polar Bears headed into the final week of conference competition knowing that they would face each other in the first round and that the winner of the season finale at Williams would earn the right to host the other the following weekend. Bowdoin held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the game but was unable to earn the win, as Tracey Ferriter’s second goal of the contest at 8:17 of the third period stood up as the game-winner for a 3-2 Williams win. The two teams skated to a tie in their only other meeting this season, 2-2 on Nov. 29 in Brunswick. The Ephs have a bit of momentum heading into the first round showdown, going 7-3-0 over their last 10 games as compared to the Polar Bears’ 5-5-0 showing during that span. This will be the third time Bowdoin and Williams have battled in NESCAC championship play, with the Polar Bears winning the previous two matches. Bowdoin downed Williams 2-1 for the 2002 conference title, its first of two overall, and used the same score to beat the Ephs in what was their last semifinal appearance in 2006.
2010 NESCAC WOMEN’S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 27 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Amherst - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Hamilton at No. 3 Middlebury - 1:00 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Williams - 1:00 p.m.
No. 7 Connecticut College at No. 2 Trinity - 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 6 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 1:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 7
Semifinal winners - 2:00 p.m.