Women's Hockey: Contini nets 1st career goal at opportune time
With Friday night’s game knotted 5-5 heading deep into the third period, the women’s hockey team found itself in a hard-fought battle at Rensselaer. With the minutes waning in regulation, it was freshman forward Molly Contini who gave Princeton a 6-5 lead on a lunging effort with about 12 minutes to play.
Contini’s goal was her second of the game and of her young collegiate career, with the first coming in the first period.
“As freshmen, they are still adjusting to the speed of the game. It is a lot more physical than what they are used to from high school. Molly got a few key goals for us in a very tight game,” junior forward Olivia Mucha said.
Once the Tigers took a 6-5 lead, they preserved it through the final minutes, picking up their first league win of the season. The following day, Princeton (3-3-2 overall, 1-3-2 ECAC Hockey) earned another point with a 1-1 tie at Union.
On Friday, Princeton and RPI (2-7-1, 0-4) had traded goals since the second minute of the first period, when the Engineers scored the game’s first goal. The level of intensity from the two sides was high, as they both sought their first ECAC victory.
“The game was very intense,” Mucha said. “It was a real battle. Goals went back and forth. Each team did a nice job executing during penalties in a very physical game.”
Mucha scored two goals and added an assist in her second game of the season, as the forward is coming off of a serious knee injury that kept her out for most of her sophomore campaign. Mucha assisted junior forward Sally Butler on Princeton’s first goal of the game, which tied the score 1-1 three minutes in. She proceeded to give the Tigers a lead twice, scoring with 29 seconds left in the first period to put her team ahead 3-2 and netting another goal midway through the second on a power play to give the Tigers a 4-3 advantage.
Late in the second frame, senior forward Alex Kinney scored off of an assist by senior forward Corey Stearns, but the Engineers’ Kristen Jakubowski tied the game 5-5 early in the third period, setting the stage for Contini’s game-winning goal.
On Saturday, Princeton found itself attempting to preserve a lead once again against Union (3-5-2, 0-2-2) at Messa Rink. The Tigers came out offensively early on, scoring on their first power-play opportunity of the game when Stearns and Kinney assisted fellow senior forward Kelley Cooke in the first period.
The Tigers held that lead for the majority of the game, nearly staving off Union’s final attack. But when the hosts pulled their goalie with a minute remaining, Princeton goaltender Kimberly Newell, who made 34 saves, could not keep the puck out of the net. The fourth consecutive Union shot got past Newell to tie the game. Both teams played strong defense in overtime and the game ended in a stalemate.
“It hit us hard because we knew we were the better team in that game, with the lead up until the last 30 seconds,” Mucha said. “In my head I was replaying what happened with the last goal, thinking about what I could have done better. It hit us hard, but we realize that we can’t let it affect us for the next few games.”
Princeton looks forward to a seven-game home stand at Baker Rink through the rest of November. Next weekend, the Tigers will take on two more league opponents: St. Lawrence on Friday and Clarkson on Saturday.
“With our record right now, they might think of taking us lightly,” Mucha said. “We are ready to prove them wrong.”
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