With fewer than two minutes remaining in the men’s hockey team’s Saturday night senior day matchup against Yale, the Tigers and the Bulldogs appeared poised for an overtime showdown.
However, Yale freshman forward Carson Cooper abruptly changed that trajectory, positioning himself in front of the Tiger net and collecting a quick pass from the right before scoring an impressive backhanded goal with just 1:56 left on the clock. The shot, which beat senior goaltender Mike Condon low and to his left through traffic, lifted Yale to a late 4-3 lead that would hold, granting Yale its third Ivy League hockey championship in four years and extending Princeton’s current losing streak to four games.
The men’s difficult defeat came on the heels of the women’s hockey team’s equally painful loss to Yale just a few hours earlier in New Haven. In that contest, the Tigers squandered a 2-0 second period, relinquishing the game-winning goal with only 8:55 left in the final period. Yale forward Lynn Kennedy picked up the puck near mid ice before streaking down the left flank, firing a low wrist shot to the far post from a few yards out.
Kennedy’s goal capped an impressive comeback for the Bulldogs, who celebrated their senior day with a victory following an additional goal on an open net.
The 4-2 loss proved devastating for the Tigers, however, knocking them out of playoff contention and ending an 11-season streak of playoff appearances.
Both teams also faced off against Brown on Friday night. The men’s team suffered a 4-1 home defeat, falling behind 2-0 in the first period before giving up another pair of goals in the second and third periods.
Princeton’s only goal came when junior forward Andrew Calof found the net with under three minutes remaining.
The women’s team picked up Princeton hockey’s only victory of the weekend, securing a 2-1 win in Providence. Freshman forward Molly Contini broke a 1-1 tie with 2:15 left on the clock, receiving the puck from senior forward Kelly Cooke on a give-and-go before slotting the puck past the Brown netminder for the winning goal.
Special teams played an important role for both the men’s and women’s teams, although the men’s special unit fared better over the course of the weekend. The men’s team went 1-5 on the power play over the two-game stretch, and its penalty-killing unit also posted a solid result, allowing one goal in five opportunities. Senior defenseman Eric Meland scored an important go-ahead goal on the power play in the third period of the Yale game, but Princeton would relinquish the lead within two minutes. The women’s team went 0-7 on the power play and 1-5 on the penalty kill. However, it was a power-play goal scored by Yale forward Alyssa Zupon in the second period of that match that cut the Tiger lead to 2-1 and energized the Bulldogs’ comeback.
Although the women’s season came to a sudden end this weekend with the loss to Yale, the men’s team will look to maintain a playoff spot in its final two contests against Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard next weekend. If Princeton, which currently sits in ninth place, can finish the season in the top eight, the team will secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs.