NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Sixth-ranked Amherst drew one step closer to earning the second seed in the first-ever NESCAC postseason tournament with a 4-2 win at ECAC rival Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Friday night.
Junior forward Bob Miele notched his third hat trick of the season, including a pair of power-play goals and the game-winner midway through the third period — all assisted by senior linemate Jim Smith.
Junior forward Darren Reaume added a pair of assists and an empty-net goal at the end of regulation, as the Jeffs improved to 15-4-3 overall (11-2-3 ECAC).
Miele, who notched consecutive hat tricks on six power-play goals in a pair of wins over Hamilton and Skidmore earlier in the season, entered familiar territory with Friday night’s offensive fireworks. He now has a team-leading nine power-play goals on the season, seven of which were assisted by Smith, and is the Jeffs’ second leading scorer with 13 goals and 15 assists overall.
He was also named the NESCAC and USCHO Division III Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 29.
Meanwhile, senior goaltender Nick Rieser, named the NESCAC and USCHO Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after posting a pair of key conference wins over Bowdoin and Colby Colleges, was once again stellar between the pipes with 19 saves.
The Jeffs entered Friday night’s game tied with Colby for second place in the NESCAC standings with 23 points, just five points shy of conference frontrunner Middlebury, which already clinched the regular-season title. With a win Saturday at archrival Williams, Amherst would guarantee itself the second seed and a home playoff game.
The NESCAC uses a unique playoff format where only the top seven teams make the playoffs. The regular-season champion receives a bye in the first round and hosts a “final four” on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3. Teams two through four host teams five through seven in the first round.