AMHERST, Mass. — In the first meeting between Hobart and Amherst since the 2005-06 season, the game started out with both teams looking for a physical match-up and playing things very conservatively.
Both teams were held to early shots from the perimeter, which were easily handled by Amhersts Cole Anderson and Hobart senior Keith Longo, respectively. At the 14:47 mark, Amhersts Eddie Effinger was stopped by Longos quick pads on a rebound attempt at left post.
Offensive chances were limited for both teams but the physical intensity was picking up as the period progressed. Hobarts Christopher Bower took a boarding call at 11:37 of the period but the Statesmen had no problems in containing the Amherst power play with several end-to-end clears.
Just after Bowers penalty expired, Amhersts Shane Lennox went off for cross-checking and Hobart was successful in applying good offensive pressure despite the lack of quality scoring chances.
Just after Lennoxs penalty expired, Bowers made up for his earlier trip to the sin bin by scoring the games first goal. At 16:41 of the period, Hobart continued to pressure the Amherst zone following the end of the penalty and quick passing from linemates Daniel organ and Gregory Alberti set-up Bowers for the shot from the low slot. Anderson got a piece of the puck but not enough as defenseman Lennox swept the puck from behind his netminder but not before it had crossed the line and Hobart had a 1-0 lead.
A hooking call to Hobarts Jordan Zitoun gave the Lord Jeffs another power-play opportunity late in the period but Longo was up to the challenge stopping both Rylan Burns and Eddie Effinger to preserve the lead.
The period ended 1-0 Hobart with shots even for both sides at 13 apiece.
The second period could not have started better for the Statesmen looking to build on their 1-0 advantage. A minor for contact to the head by Amhersts Jason DeGiovanni at the end of the first period gave a power-play opportunity to Hobart to start the second.
An offensive flurry by Hobart as DeGiovannis penalty expired forced Anderson to make three outstanding saves on Moriarty down low. In the resulting scramble Amherst picked up two additional minor penalties to Burns for hooking and Joel Covelli for cross checking giving Hobart a 5-on-3 opportunity for a full two minutes.
The pressure on the Amherst net was immense on the power play with Hobart coming close on a shot that hit the post at 3:09 from the point and another hitting the crossbar after a cross-ice feed to Aleksey Koval in final 10 seconds of penalty. Amherst survived the penalties and just thirty seconds later got even on the scoreboard.
At 5:06 senior Keith Nelson broke down the right side and beat Longo short side off feed from linemate Matthew Rhone and game is tied at 1-1. Captain Jeff Landers picked up the second assist on the play and momentum swung to the home team for a few minutes.
At 6:40 with Hobarts Bobby Cahill off for goaltender interference, Amherst went on the power play. Defenseman Andrew Brennan had a big block of an Eddie Effinger shot at bottom of the circle off a feed from Landers. The Hobart defense and Longo kept things away from the goal and controlled rebounds away from Amherst.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the period, Hobart again went on the power play when Keith Nelson was called for tripping. Again the Statesmen had great sustained pressure but not much puck luck as they hit another cross bar hit just 20 seconds into the power play. A mad scramble in front of net for the rebound resulted in another minor on Rylan Burns for cross-checking and another two man advantage for Hobart.
Hobarts Patrick Moriarty made a terrific rush that created one testing shot but there were no more serious bids as Nelson coming out of the box, successfully killed a lot of the remaining time on the penalty.
With just 2:38 left in the period, Landers had a great chance walking in from the right point to the slot where he missed high on glove side on Longo who wasnt giving Amherst much to shoot at.
Then with just over two minutes remaining, Hobart defenseman Dan Miller went off for tripping. Longo came up big with a nice left pad save on a drive by Landers at middle point. Another shot from the left circle by Arnold off a feed from Effinger was swallowed up by Longo and Hobart successfully kills off penalty and the game was tied at 1-1 after two periods of play.
Shots for the period were 17-9 in favor of Hobart and for the game Hobart was outshooting the Lord Jeffs 30-22.
The third period started out with both teams hungry to take the lead and looking for every opportunity to beat both netminders who were playing solid for their teams.
With Landers off for cross checking, Hobart had their third 5-on-3 opportunity of the game. A quick back door play just missed at the far post by Moriarty was the best opportunity for the Statesmen on the power play and Amherst survived yet another critical penalty kill.
At the 10 minute mark, Amhersts Brendan Powers stole the puck at the Hobart blueline and moved in for a 2-on-1 bid resulting in a hard shot off a bouncing puck on Longo who held his angle and the puck keeping the score tied.
Both teams were pushing the puck looking for quality chances in the final five minutes. Hobarts Blake Bonham forced Anderson to make a big save at the right post of a feed by Zitoun with just over two minutes in regulation and down the other end, Vickers was stoned by Longo on a shot to the short side off a feed from behind the goal.
With less than five seconds to play, Hobarts Matthew Wallace had a great bid down the slot that was stopped by Anderson and the game was headed to overtime.
Shots favored Amherst in the third period 9-7 but Hobart held the advantage after regulation by a 37-31 margin.
It didnt take long for things to heat up in the overtime session.
Less than 30 seconds into overtime Tom Capalbo for Hobart had a chance on a wrap-around effort for Hobart that Anderson stuffed at the post. Not even thirty seconds later, Anderson makes his best save of the game off point blank shot by Blake Bonham to keep Amherst alive.
Amherst had their chances as well with Joel Covelli snapping a rebound from a left point shot by Mike Baran that was stopped by Longo. Powers again was stopped by Longo on 2-on-1 play off a transition play out of the neutral zone with just over eight minutes played in OT.
Hobart continued to cycle low and create pressure in the Amherst end as a shot by Hobarts Matthew Wallace was blocked by Anderson and the dangerous rebound was swatted out of rink by a diving Effinger.
At 11:40 of overtime, senior Jason Merritt picked Jeff Landers pocket deep in the Amherst zone and quickly pivoted to fire a shot on Anderson that beat the stunned netminder through the five hole and crept into the net for the overtime winner advancing Hobart to the Frozen Four and a rematch with Neumann, an upset winner of number one seeded Plattsburgh by a score of 5-4 in OT.
Amherst finished their season at 22-5-1 having suffered their first defeat on home ice this season.
This was a great game, noted Hobart coach Mark Taylor. We didnt get too concerned about the missed opportunities on the power play–if you are hitting posts, you must be doing some things right. We stressed perseverance on defense and tenacity on offense and it worked out for us. We knew this game would be tight and our kids played really well against a very good team.
Senior Jason Merritt who scored the game winner beamed as he thought about next weeks trip to the Frozen Four. We played our game: Hobart hockey. This is such a great group, a close knit group that gets along great. The seniors remember the Frozen Four back in 2006 but we want to make our own memories with this team and it will be great to play against Neumann next Friday night.