Women's Hockey: Princeton enters home series vs. Ohio State
Already one-third of the way through its regular season, the women’s hockey team has had an up-and-down start to the year. Princeton (3-5-2 overall, 1-5-2 ECAC), after a win and a tie the previous weekend, dropped two conference games. Friday night, Princeton hosted ECAC rival St. Lawrence (7-6-1, 5-1) and lost 2-6. The following afternoon, No. 3 Clarkson (12-2, 6-0) skated to a 2-1 overtime victory to remain unbeaten in conference play.
“Saturday was definitely a turning point for our team, as we showed that we can compete with the best of the best,” senior captain Kelly Cooke said. “Now that we have set that standard, we owe it to ourselves and our coaches to continue playing that way. As of now, we have a lot of momentum going into this weekend, and we have the chance to turn our season around with this series against Ohio State.”
These were the first two of seven consecutive home games the Tigers will host this winter. To date, Princeton has not won on its home ice at Baker Rink, finding more success on the road in New York and Pennsylvania. The Tigers have an opportunity over break to snap that streak when they host Ohio State for two games on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday, St. Lawrence got ahead early with a goal at 6:26 in the first period. The Tigers answered back six minutes later when freshman forward Molly Contini, with assistance from senior forwards Corey Stearns and Alex Kinney, converted on a power-play opportunity. St. Lawrence slid two more goals across the line in the next three minutes to go ahead 3-1 by the end of the first period. The second period was scoreless, though the Tigers did have one power-play chance.
St. Lawrence quickly followed up a timeout with a goal 6:35 into the third period. Princeton scored with its second power-play opportunity of the game with a goal from senior forward Kelly Cooke. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the 4-2 gap widened in the next six minutes after two more goals for St. Lawrence, putting the score at 6-2 and out of reach for a Princeton comeback.
On Saturday, playing against a statistically tougher opponent, Princeton stayed in the game for the full 60 minutes of regulation. Clarkson netted the game’s first goal with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period, but then neither team would find the back of the cage for over 30 minutes. Skating toward goal in the middle of the third period, Cooke was tripped by a Clarkson defender and given a penalty shot. Cooke converted, rocketing the puck into the top corner of the net to tie up the game 1-1 and sending the game to overtime. At 1:33 in the extra frame, Clarkson took the game to 2-1, following a faulty line change by Princeton that left the Tigers without a full defensive line. Freshman goalie Kimberly Newell has started all 10 games for the Tigers and is currently third in the ECAC rankings with 304 saves.
“After Friday night, we regrouped as a team and focused on the little things that we needed to work on, including tightening up our D-zone play and moving fast through the neutral zone,” Cooke said. “After a shaky start to the weekend on Friday, every member of our team stepped it up against Clarkson, which was exciting to see.”
While most students are home for Thanksgiving break, the team will be training hard to prepare for its pair of weekend games against Ohio State (10-4, 8-4). Last year when the Tigers faced off against the Buckeyes, both games ended in ties, 2-2 and 1-1, after overtime. Ohio State is coming off of a weekend of games against Wisconsin, which they split 1-1. Princeton, averaging 2.30 goals per game, will have to fight hard to compete with an Ohio State offense that is averaging 3.57 goals per game. Success on power plays has benefitted the Tigers, who boast a .256 conversion rate, while holding their opponents to an average .190 power-play success rate.
“We’re definitely excited to play Ohio State this weekend after the game we played against Clarkson on Saturday,” Cooke said. “We have a lot of momentum coming into this series, so it will definitely be a tough battle this weekend, and we’re hoping to come out with two wins.”
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