Women's Hockey: Princeton splits series at Baker Rink
The women’s hockey team earned half of the points it had aspired to this past weekend when it hosted two ECAC rivals at Baker Rink. On Friday evening, the Tigers (5-7-2 overall, 2-6-2 ECAC) shut out Union 3-0, keeping the Dutchmen winless in conference play. The next day, Princeton fell to Rensselaer 4-3, handing the visitors their first ECAC win of the season. Remaining in the middle of the conference pack, the Tigers must continue fighting for every point in their upcoming games to guarantee themselves a spot in the eight-team league play-offs.
Princeton has never lost a game to Union in 20 meetings, though it tied the Dutchmen 1-1 in early November. Friday night, the Tigers’ strong and pervasive teamwork spread from the attack through the defense and back to the goalie. Freshman goalkeeper Kimberly Newell earned her first career shutout with 19 saves; she currently has the second-most saves in the conference.
“On Friday, our defense really controlled the game by keeping possession of the puck and connecting on all of our passes,” sophomore forward Brianna Leahy said. “We were strong in the corners and won the one-on-one battles.”
Union (3-8-2, 0-4-2) outshot Princeton 8-6 in the first period, testing the Tigers’ back line and goalie early on, but no goals were scored on either side. Early in the second period, senior captain Kelly Cooke collected a rebound off a shot by junior defender Rose Alleva and sent it back toward the net. Again, the shot was deflected, but Cooke collected her own rebound and sent her next shot into the goal to put Princeton ahead 1-0.
The Tigers’ defense held strong again, allowing only three shots by the Dutchmen in the second frame. At 14:22, junior forward Olivia Mucha sent in the Tigers’ second goal on a power play, again off of a deflection, with assistance by Alleva and junior defender Gabie Figueroa. Princeton’s third and final goal came in the middle of the third period, when junior forward Sally Butler and Figueroa set up Mucha for her second goal of the night.
The Tigers outshot Union 31-19 and converted on one of their three power-play opportunities, something that has brought them success all season.
“This weekend, we played as a team and moved the puck quickly,” Leahy said. “Moving the puck quickly created more time and space for us, which allowed us to capitalize on all of our chances.”
On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers let the score get away from them without enough time for a comeback. Behind 3-0 heading into the third, Princeton fought back to score three goals, but it was not enough to overcome RPI (3-11-2, 1-5-0).
Just before the end of the first period, RPI netted the first goal of the game, and the visitors found the back of the net in the first and sixth minutes of the second period to go ahead 3-0. With an assist by senior forward Corey Stearns, Cooke recorded the Tigers’ first goal of the game at 3:53 in the third period. Working together again, Cooke helped Stearns earn the team’s second score at 4:48; both goals came with the Tigers shorthanded.
But four minutes later, RPI scored what would be the game-deciding goal to go ahead 4-2. Despite Cooke’s second goal, which was assisted by Butler and Stearns, there was not enough time left for the Tigers to change the outcome. RPI outshot Princeton 27-16, and the Tigers failed to convert on any of their six power play chances.
“For the first two periods on Saturday, we weren’t moving our feet or making smart plays,” Leahy said. “We made a great comeback in the third but fell short simply because we ran out of time.”
Next weekend, the Tigers face off against Quinnipiac in a two-game ECAC series, with Princeton hosting Friday’s game and Quinnipiac hosting on Saturday.
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