Oswego St. Tops Amherst in Overtime in NCAA Men's Ice Hockey
Courtesy Amherst Sports Information
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The Amherst College men's hockey team fell short in its quest for a first NCAA title after dropping a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime decision to Oswego St. Friday night in a national semifinal game at Herb Brooks Arena.
Down 1-0 in the waning moments of regulation, Eddie Effinger '12 (Belleville, Ill.) put away the game-tying tally, only to have Paul Rodrigues '13 net the game winner 7:20 into the extra session to snap the Jeffs' 12-game win streak. Amherst ends the most successful year in program history with a 24-4-1 record, while Oswego improves to 24-3-2.
Nick Brunette (Chaska, Minn.) found open space in the slot less than five minutes in, but junior goaltender Andrew Hare smothered the try to keep Amherst from taking an early lead. Looking to counter, Dave Titanic '14 and Chris Ayotte '13 tested Jeff netminder Jonathan La Rose '12 (Boyle, Alberta), but the goalie stymied both attempts.
Just over the halfway point in the opening period, Titanic again put a shot on net, but La Rose stopped the initial try and the ensuing rebound to keep an active Oswego attack at bay. After a busy La Rose turned away a Chris Muise '13 backhand with just over five to play in the first, Amherst turned the tables and outshot the Lakers 6-2 for the remainder of the frame. Hare held steady for Oswego and finished the first with 13 saves.
Amherst rang the post early in the second and nearly put home the rebound, as Dylan Trumble '13 (Calgary, Alberta) pushed a shot just wide left. On the game's first power play 9:24 into the period, Amherst turned up the pressure and registered three shots during the man-up advantage, but a solid Hare kept everything in front to keep things level.
Oswego earned a power play of its own 13:14 into the second, but it was Brunette who found a lane down the right side and put a low tracer on net while Amherst was short-handed. Brunette got another golden opportunity when he moved across the crease and fired a backhanded shot toward the right post, but Hare quickly slid over and notched his 24th save of the night to keep things scoreless after two.
Locked in a defensive battle midway through the third after another fruitless Oswego power play, the Lakers finally solved La Rose when Ian Boots '12 snuck a quick shot from the left circle past the Amherst goalie at 10:26 to suddenly take a 1-0 lead.
Despite the Jeffs holding an 8-3 shooting edge over the next nine minutes, La Rose was called upon to make a pair of timely saves down the stretch to keep Amherst within striking distance. Pulling their goalie in the final minute, the Jeffs called a timeout to set up one final play. Winning the face-off above the blue line, Aaron Deutsch '15 (Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.) skated the puck into the left corner toward junior Johnny Van Siclen (Carlisle, Mass.), who backhanded a pass back up to the point to Jamie Hawkrigg (Waterdown, Ontario).
Sliding the puck back over to Deutsch at the top of the left circle, the first year defenseman flicked a shot on net that found Hare's pads. Hacking at the loose puck in front, Van Siclen nudged it over to a waiting Effinger, who buried the equalizer with just 22 seconds left in regulation to give Amherst new life.
Amherst nearly ended the contest early in overtime when Trumble took a cross-ice feed and appeared to have an open shot on goal, but he couldn't get a solid swing on the pass to push it toward the cage. Minutes later, Rodrigues raced forward on a breakaway, patiently moving from the left circle across the face of the crease before flicking a shot over a sprawling La Rose to seal the Laker win.
Hare finished with 43 saves, while La Rose made 25 stops in the loss. Dropping his first game in 13 outings, La Rose finished a tremendous senior season with a 19-2-1 record, 1.55 goals-against average and .943 save percentage en route to AHCA National Player of the Year honors.
Entering tonight's contest as the national leader in save percentage, win percentage and shutouts (5), he closes out a decorated career in Purple & White with a 42-5-3 record and 1.67 goals-against average. Already the NCAA's single-season record holder in save percentage after stopping 391-of-409 shots faced in 2008-09, he also wraps up his time at Amherst as the career save percentage leader thanks to a .943 clip.
Enjoying arguably his best season to date, head coach Jack Arena '83 helped the Lord Jeffs set a program record for wins (24) in 2011-12, while guiding the program to a second NESCAC title, a third NCAA Tournament berth and the team's first-ever appearance in the national semifinals.
With the loss, Amherst and Arena must bid farewell to a stellar senior class that finishes its four-year stint with the program's best ever mark (74-23-10), while having captured a pair of conference titles and earning two berths in the NCAA Tournament.