Despite rough record, men's hockey makes statement with victories at home| Feb 15, 2015
In what has been a long and arduous season for the men’s hockey team, the Tigers (4-17-3 overall, 2-14-2 Eastern College Athletic Conference) are finally heating up, grabbing a tie and victory this past weekend against two tough conference foes. Under first-year head coach Ron Fogarty, the young team has experienced its share of struggles on the ice in the 2014-15 campaign, but following a three-point weekend at Hobey Baker Rink against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, the Tigers are on the upswing.
Flash back to the third weekend in November, when the Tigers traveled to New York to take on St. Lawrence and Clarkson on opposing ice. The then injury-ridden team dropped both games, failing to register a goal in the 3-0 and 4-0 losses.
On Friday night, the Orange and Black set out to avenge the loss to the Golden Knights of Clarkson (11-15-4, 8-8-2) in front of 1,735 fans at Baker Rink. The visitors struck first, as Terrance Amorosa netted his first goal of the season at 13:15 in the first period to put his team ahead. However, there was no panic for the home side as senior forward Aaron Kesselman evened the score at 5:38 of the second period. Senior defender Tom Kroshus and freshman forward Eric Robinson assisted on the goal — Kesselman’s third of the season. After each team successfully killed two penalties, the score remained locked at one entering the final frame, where senior forward Tucker Brockett would have the final word.
Following a stellar effort from junior forward Jonathan Liau to deliver the puck to Brockett's stick, the senior buried the game-winning goal past Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis at 7:06 in the period. Freshman defender Joe Grabowski and Liau were credited with assists on the tally, Brockett’s third of the season. From there, sophomore netminder Colton Phinney took care of the rest. Phinney stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period, finishing with 28 saves on the night to send the Princeton faithful home happy.
The following night, 1,790 spectators filled Baker Rink to watch as the Tigers hosted No. 20 St. Lawrence (16-11-3, 12-5-1) in another conference battle. Once again, the home side went down a goal in the first period, as a defensive breakdown allowed St. Lawrence’s Patrick Doherty to beat Phinney on a breakaway for a shorthanded goal at 9:47.
The second stanza saw some great hockey between the Saints and Tigers. After killing a penalty early in the period, Princeton took its turn on the power play at 11:06. On the man advantage, the line of junior forward and alternate captain Mike Ambrosia, junior forward Kyle Rankin, and sophomore forward Ryan Siiro went to work. The line, stellar all weekend, leveled the game at one as Ambrosia beat goalie Kyle Hayton glove-side for his second tally of the season. Siiro and Rankin registered assists on the goal.
Back-and-forth play characterized the remainder of the game, with each team unable to break through against the opposing goaltenders. Phinney continued his great play in net, stopping all 16 shots he encountered in the third, and 34 in total on the night. Tied after a full 60 minutes of regulation, both teams lined up again for five minutes of bonus hockey. Brockett almost played the role of hero once again, as he seemingly scored what would have been the game-winner in the first minute of overtime. However, after a video review, the officials ruled that the puck had been covered up before crossing the line — no goal. Despite good looks on both sides of the rink in the remaining minutes, neither team could score, and the exciting game ended in a 1-1 tie.
After registering just three points in their first sixteen ECAC games of the season, the Tigers doubled their total this past weekend. In a league where every team makes the playoffs, Princeton could be primed to turn some heads as the postseason nears. The improvement of the team over the course of the season has been evident of late, with the Tigers playing highly competitive hockey.
Princeton will welcome Ivy foes Brown (7-17-1, 4-13-1) and Yale (15-7-3, 10-6-2) next weekend as they try to build upon their impressive recent play in the final home games of the season.