Women’s hockey: Trio of third-period goals enable Amherst College to rally past Western New England 4-2

Players from Amherst and Western New England battle for the puck Tuesday at Orr Rink in Amherst.

Players from Amherst and Western New England battle for the puck Tuesday at Orr Rink in Amherst. KRIS DUFOUR/AMHERST ATHLETICS

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-06-2024 9:43 PM

AMHERST — All night long, the Amherst College women’s hockey team kept the puck in the attacking zone for huge chunks of time, tiring out Western New England skaters with long shifts. But it hadn’t really paid off as the two teams were deadlocked at two apiece late in the third period.

That is, until Maeve Reynolds had something to say about it.

Reynolds, a graduate of Williston Northampton School, crashed the net with the puck loose in front of Golden Bears goalie Rieley Jessie-Gerelli. After several attempts at jamming the puck past Jessie-Gerelli, Reynolds finally squeaked it over the red line to give the Mammoths a 3-2 lead with 6:40 left in the frame.

Kelsey Stewart would add a goal of her own 40 seconds later (assisted by Reynolds), and Amherst hung on to win 4-2 on Tuesday night at Orr Rink for its fifth consecutive victory.

Despite being down 2-1 entering the final period, the Mammoths came back with three unanswered to put the game away.

“We had a good little pump-up speech in the locker room to get away from the complacency that I think we showed in that second period,” senior Mary Thompson said. “We fell back into what our game is and how we know we can play in the third period, and I think that was a big difference for us.”

The game’s first goal didn’t come until the end of the first period when Amherst quickly re-entered the attacking zone after WNE cleared the puck out. Thompson received a pass from Emily Hohmann and bolted down the left side along the boards. She found Marie-Eve Marleau, who parked herself in an open space in the slot and buried a one-timer to put Amherst ahead 1-0 with 1:34 remaining  in the opening frame.

Typically goals at the end of the period inject momentum into the team that scored, but that wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

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It was the Golden Bears that came out with more energy in the second period. Although WNE was out-shot by a large margin, it still found a way to stick around. Jenna Lynch and Kelly Yorkey each tallied goals to give the Golden Bears a lead, and Jessie-Gerelli saved everything that came her way, stopping 32 of 33 shots after two periods of play.

On just five shots, WNE had two goals – both coming in fortunate ways.

“We put a lot of shots on net, but as it can happen in hockey, you can out-play someone, out-shoot someone and still be down,” Amherst head coach Jeff Matthews said. “It was a challenge for the team’s mindset and character, and they came out and showed a lot of heart in that third period.”

The third-period onslaught began with a Thompson goal, as she received a pass from Marleau and ripped a wrist shot through traffic that the goalie never saw. The puck found its way through the crowd and into the net to tie the game at two.

Reynolds and Stewart tallied their aforementioned goals, giving Amherst the win. The Mammoths are hoping they can find a way to host the upcoming NESCAC tournament.

“We’re focusing on figuring out how we can grow each week,” Matthews said. “We know that the best time of year is the end, but we’re just gonna take things slow and try to enjoy it. Put the work in, play as a team and play for each other.”

Amherst (17-2-2) returns to the ice on Friday for a 7 p.m. game on the road at Curry College.