Women's Hockey: Princeton drops pair of road games
Returning to ECAC competition for the first time in five weeks, the women's hockey team dropped two road games this weekend to No. 2 Harvard and Dartmouth. The Tigers (6-12-2 overall, 2-10-2 ECAC) are currently in eighth place in the conference with six points, and the outcome of all their future ECAC games will help determine which teams qualify for the postseason tournament. Qualifying spots are still very much up for grabs, as Princeton presently sits just two points above Colgate and Brown and three points above Union and Yale.
Friday night the Tigers traveled to Cambridge, Mass. for a rematch against Harvard. Currently ranked second in the nation, the Crimson (13-1-1, 11-0) remain undefeated in the conference this year and in first place by four points. Earlier this year, Harvard handed Princeton its biggest loss of the season, a 9-1 domination. This time, the Tigers gave the host a much closer game, resulting in a final score of 3-0.
"We were much more disciplined on our forecheck and everyone stuck to the plan," sophomore forward Brianna Leahy said. "Harvard moves the puck well and has a lot of speed up front, so we knew we had to play smart if we were going to give them a good game."
The Crimson opened the scoring early in the first period and sent in another goal halfway through the frame to go ahead by two. Princeton played hard for the remainder of the first and the entire second period, holding off Harvardís scoring for 30 minutes, but was unable to convert for a goal themselves. A third goal was sent in early in the third period to seal the victory for the Crimson. Despite offensive opportunities, the Harvard defense and goalkeeper did not allow anything past them. Overall, Princeton was outshot 45-20. Freshman goalie Kimberly Newell recorded an impressive 40 saves.
"[Harvard] capitalized on our mistakes and finished on their odd man rushes," Leahy said.
Saturday afternoon the Tigers faced off against Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. It was the Tigers' second meeting with the Big Green this season, with the first ending in favor of Dartmouth 3-1. Despite being shut out the night before, Princeton was able to tally two goals, though they were not enough to overcome Dartmouth's six goals.
"We changed our forecheck slightly, which generated better quality scoring opportunities and wore their defense down," Leahy said.
The score remained close through the beginning of the second period, but then Dartmouth ran off three quick goals to put the game out of reach. The Big Green netted the first goal less than four minutes into play. The Tigers answered just before the end of the first period with a goal from Leahy, assisted by junior defender Gabie Figueroa and sophomore defender Ali Pankowski.
The second period opened with back-to-back goals, with Dartmouth and Princeton each scoring their second goals. Leahy netted her second of the game with assists from Figueroa and freshman forward Maddie Peake. In six minutes, Dartmouth's Camille Dumais put together a hat trick. Two of the goals came off of man-up opportunities. The Big Green's sixth and final goal was scored in the third period. The shot margin was closer on Saturday, with Dartmouth outshooting Princeton 36-21. Sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Holt played the entire game in net for the Tigers in her third start of the season, recording a career high 30 saves.
The Tigers will take a two-week break from competition so that the team can focus on their final exams. Princeton's next game will be a midweek contest away at Penn State on Jan. 29. The Tigers will finish out their regular season schedule with eight consecutive conference games, the first four at home and the final four on the road.
"The last few games of the season are huge in terms of making the playoffs, as we are playing a number of teams that are in the same position as us," Leahy said.
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