WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams Ephs (18-4-1, 14-2-1 NESCAC) defeated Amherst (9-10-4, 7-7-3 NESCAC) 2-0 this afternoon in the Lansing Chapman Rink. Williams scored a goal in both the second and third periods to extend their win streak to eight heading into the final regular season match tomorrow.
Amherst and Williams last faced off December 11th at the Orr Hockey Rink in Amherst, the two teams coming away with a 2-2 overtime tie.
Last weekend, the Ephs had back to back games against Middlebury, winning both by a margin of one (a 5-4 overtime victory, and a 3-2 regulation victory). This was Williams' third four point weekend in a row, and their seventh straight win.
Last weekend was also a four point weekend for Amherst; first defeating Tufts 2-1 and following that up with a 4-1 victory over Connecticut College. Coming into today's game, Amherst has won their last three games.
Starting in net for the Ephs today was freshman Michael Pinios. Pinios came into his 14th start with a .937 save percentage. In the opposite crease was senior Dave Cunningham, who came into his 13th start with a .928 save percentage. Pinios accrued another shut out today, saving all 32 shots faced. Cunningham made 31 saves in the contest.
The Ephs were the first to get on the board in the contest, At 11:55 of the second period, sophomore Joe Welch received a pass from behind, and was able to fight off the Amherst defender to have an open shot on Cunningham low down in the zone. Welch was able to fire one through, bringing the game to 1-0 for the Ephs. This was Welch's second goal of the season. Classmate Colby Cretella was awarded an assist on the play (fifth assist).
"We played well today," said Williams head coach Bill Kangas. "Amherst is a good team; it just goes to show how strong our league is, these games are very tight. We didn't expect anything different, we knew they were good team."
After two periods the shot count was tied at 22 apiece.
The Williams Ephs extended their lead to two near the halfway point of the second period. At 10:05, the puck was fired towards the net from the lower right circle. Freshman Roberto Cellini was thrown down in the crease, but managed to get one past Cunningham despite his tough position. This was Cellini's sixth goal of the season, bringing the game to 2-0. Cellini was assisted on the play by junior Tyler Young (11th assist).
"You can throw records out of the books, especially for when it is Williams versus Amherst, two big rivals," noted Kangas. "We drew a big crowd today. This was a good team, I just thought we played pretty well, and we converted, that is what it comes down to."
The game ended with a final score of 2-0 for the Ephs. Williams has now won the past 13 of their 14 games played. The final shot count was 33-32, with Williams just edging out Amherst.
The Ephs enter the NESCAC tournament as the number one seed for the first time in program history.
"We just have to keep getting better. We work so hard, we prepare every day to play, and tomorrow is a big game against Hamilton," commented Kangas. "We just have to think of it as another playoff game. That is what we have been doing and what we will have to do tomorrow, we know we're going to be playing a good team, a team that beat us in December. They have good goaltending, and we have to be ready to play."
The NESCAC regular season ends this weekend. The Ephs take on Hamilton in their final match tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 PM at home. Amherst rounds out their season at Middlebury tomorrow at 4:00 PM.