Amherst scored twice in a span of 1:07 in the third period, erasing a 3-1 Middlebury lead during a 3-3 overtime tie Saturday in the final NESCAC contest of the semester. The Panthers (4-3-1, 3-2-1) are idle until their annual holiday tournament on December 29, when they face Johnson & Wales at 1:00 p.mThe Mammoths (3-3-2, 1-2-2) return to action on December 31 for a 1:00 p.m. start at Endicott.
The hosts opened the game with a couple of scoring chances in the first few minutes of the contest. Joey Piccinini had two early shots from close range that Mammoth goalie Giancarlo Ventre stopped. The Panthers also had a 2-on-1 break, but Ventre smothered Alex Heinritz’s shot from the left side.
Amherst’s had an opportunity midway through the frame at the end of a power play, as Noah Gilreath and P.J. Conlon were each thwarted by Middlebury goalie Adam Wisco.
The hosts opened the scoring with 12:08 expired in the first period, as Alex Lee shoveled a rebound over Ventre after the net minder denied Kamil Tkachuk. Minutes later, Tkachuk took advantage of a Mammoth clearing attempt that hit off an official and wired a shot over Ventre’s left shoulder for a 2-0 lead with 4:31 on the clock.
In the middle frame, the best stretch of end-to-end action came with Amherst on the power play. Wisco kicked out Nick Bondra’s shot from the slot and Middlebury’s Mitchell Allen skated onto the rebound and used his speed to create a breakaway. The Panther had his low attempt steered aside by Ventre.
The Mammoths cut the margin in half, taking advantage of a turnover in the Panther end. After John Festa intercepted a cross-ice pass, Mitchell Shults centered the puck to Steve Mallory, who touched the feed inside the right post with 10:24 on the clock. Wisco kept the difference at one goal in the closing stages of the period, making a nice save on a one-timer by Stephen Rex from the right circle.
In the final 20 minutes, the hosts claimed a 3-1 lead on goal by Michael Fahie, who raced onto a touch pass from Lee in neutral ice. Fahie ripped a shot off the cross bar and in for his team-leading seventh goal of the season and his sixth in the last four games.
Amherst closed the difference to a goal at the 12:18 mark when Jack Fitzgerald tucked home a pass from Bondra after Pieter von Steinbergs carried the puck into the attacking zone. The Mammoths pulled even just over a minute later, as Conlon redirected a pass from along the goal line by Patrick Daly.
In the five-minute overtime, the visitors recorded two of the three shots on goal, with Wisco making a nice pad save on a shot from the right circle by Corey Goldstein.
Wisco finished with 38 saves for the Panthers and Ventre had 29 stops for the Mammoths, as Amherst held a 41-32 edge in shots on goal.
Each team came up empty on the power play, with the guests getting four opportunities and the Middlebury had one chance.