The sixth-ranked Hobart College hockey team needed extra time, but came away with a 2-1 victory over fourth-ranked Amherst in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal round tonight at Orr Rink. Senior forward Jason Merritt netted the game-winner after 71 minutes, 40 seconds of action. The Statesmen improve to a program-record 21-6-2, and advance to the NCAA Tournament Semifinals next weekend.
After playing most of the first period scoreless, the Statesmen put the first goal on the board with three minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the stanza. Sophomore forward Christopher Bower scored on a shot from about 6 feet in front of the goal, assisted by sophomore forward Daniel Organ and junior forward Gregory Alberti. The goal marked Bower’s eighth of the year.
Amherst began the second period by killing off a 5-on-3 Hobart advantage, and went on to even the game a short time later. With just over 14 minutes to play in the stanza, junior Keith Nelson’s shot from the right faceoff circle slipped through the legs of senior Statesmen goaltender Keith Longo. Sophomore Matt Rhone and senior Jeff Landers recorded the assists.
The contest went into overtime following a scoreless third period. Both teams had chances to end the game. Statesmen junior forward Blake Bonham took a hard shot from close range after just 57 seconds of extra time, but it was saved by the sprawling Lord Jeffs’ goalie, Cole Anderson. At the 7:21 mark, Amherst got loose for a 2-on-1 breakaway opportunity. Landers started the play, then passed to senior Brendan Powers for a shot that was saved by Longo.
A few minutes later, Merritt picked an Amherst clear pass, then turned and fired directly in front of the goal for his 11th tally of the year to end the game.
The Statesmen outshot the Lord Jeffs 43-38, including 17-8 in the second period. Longo finished with 37 saves, while Anderson collected 41.
The loss, the first at home for the Lord Jeffs this season, drops them to 22-5-1 on the year.
Hobart will meet Neumann for the fifth time this season in Lake Placid for the NCAA Tournament semifinal round on Fri., March 20. This will be the Statesmen’s second NCAA semifinal appearance; the first was in the 2005-06 season. The Knights advanced after upsetting No. 1 Plattsburgh 5-4 in overtime tonight.