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Women's Hockey

In what turned out to be a thrilling final weekend for women’s Eastern College Athletic Conference hockey and women’s Ivy League hockey, Princeton certainly played an important part. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it was not the role they had envisioned.

Entering the road trip against Brown on Friday night and Yale on Saturday afternoon, the Tigers (15-12-2 overall, 13-8-1 ECAC) sat at sixth place in the competitive ECAC, safely locked into a playoff berth but hoping to rise to fourth place and the right to host a quarterfinal ECAC best-of-three playoff series. To get there, Princeton would need two wins and some help elsewhere in the league, but the goal was within reach. In the Ivy League race, two wins would give Princeton its first Ivy championship since 2006. A win and a tie would clinch a share of the championship with defending champion Harvard. Anything less would leave the Tigers in second place.

Cut to Friday night in Providence, R.I., where the Bears (5-23-1, 2-19-1) gave the Tigers all they could handle through two periods. Though last-place Brown did not have nearly as much at stake as its visitors, the Bears held strong in an uneventful and scoreless first period. In fact, it was the Bears who landed the first punch — by way of the power play — as Sam Donovan netted her 12th goal of the season just 30 seconds into the man-advantage at 13:14 of the second period. Within six minutes the Tigers would get level with a power play goal of their own, as sophomore forward Morgan Sly responded at 18:27 on assists by senior forward Brianna Leahy and freshman forward Kiersten Falck.

From there, it was all Orange and Black. Freshman defender Emily Achterkirch registered her first collegiate goal at 7:45 in the third period (assisted by junior Fiona Mckenna and Leahy), and the Tigers never looked back. As junior goaltender Kimberly Newell — who finished with 21 saves on the night — held fast at the other end of the rink, the Tigers applied pressure on Brown goalie Monica Elvin. Sly tallied her second goal of the game — her eighth of the season — at 16:12 to give her team some insurance, with junior forwards Cristin Shanahan and Jaimie McDonell assisting on the goal. McDonell added a goal of her own (an empty net goal) — assisted by Shanahan and sophomore defender Molly Strabley —to cement the 4-1 victory.

Despite the win, results elsewhere ensured that Princeton would finish sixth in the ECAC. In the Ivy League race, however, the win meant that the championship would be decided the following afternoon in New Haven, Conn.

Fast forward to 4pm on Saturday. The Yale Bulldogs (15-13-1, 12-10-0) drew first blood at 9:43 as Krista Yip-Chuck beat Newell to put the home side on top early 1-0. McDonell leveled the score at one with her second goal in as many days, assisted by Achterkirch and Lloyd just 4:17 into a penalty-filled second frame.

Yale’s Grace Wickens (interference) and Princeton’s Shanahan (embellishment) were awarded matching penalties at 11:59. In the ensuing four-on-four action, a delayed checking penalty on Pankowski allowed Yale to pull goalie Jaimie Leonoff for an extra attacker. The Bulldogs capitalized on this five-on-four opportunity as Taylor Marchin converted at 12:50.

Each team traded two more power play opportunities as regulation wound down without another score. Desperate, head coach Jeff Kampersal pulled Newell for an extra skater with 1:02 remaining. A frantic last-ditch effort could not save the Tigers, and the final horn signaled a heartbreaking 2-1 loss of the game to rival Yale, and the Ivy League to rival Harvard.

While Saturday’s result will be a tough pill to swallow, Princeton’s impressive season has not yet ended. The Tigers will travel to Hamden, Conn on Friday to take on third-ranked Quinnipiac (24-7-3, 15-5-2) in a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series this weekend.

Men's Hockey

After two weeks of much improved play — featuring a three-point swing last weekend that included a win over Clarkson and a tie of then-No. 20 St. Lawrence — the men of Princeton Hockey closed out their home schedule in disappointing fashion.

In Baker Rink on Friday in front of 1,714 spectators, Princeton (4-19-3 overall, 2-16-2 ECAC) and Brown (8-17-2, 5-13-2) squared off in a rematch of January’s 2-2 tie. Neither team could muster much of an attack in the first period, though Brown’s Tyler Bird did open the scoring at 17:22 to put his team on top 1-0.

In the second period, with both school bands blaring in the stands, the Tigers came out flat. The Bears would add three goals in just over seven minutes of play between 12:49 and 19:53 of the period, as Mark Naclerio, Sam Lafferty and Nick Lappin all found the back of the net to put the game out of reach.

To its credit, Princeton went down fighting. The third period saw a slew of shots and scoring chances for the home side, which fired 19 salvos on Brown netminder Tim Ernst. The lone highlight of the night for Princeton came at 11:48 in the period, as junior Kevin Liss — a defenseman playing on the fourth forward line for the night — intercepted a cross-ice pass at the red line on the penalty kill. Liss made a beeline for the net and managed to power the puck into the cage on the contested breakaway, netting his first collegiate goal.

Following a timeout, first-year head coach Ron Fogarty pulled sophomore goaltender Colton Phinney with 4:54 remaining for an extra attacker. While his team was able to sustain an attack, Brown and Ernst stood tall to keep the puck from entering the goal, and when the final horn sounded the score remained at 4-1 in favor of the visitors. Ernst finished with 31 saves on 32 shots, while Phinney had 23 on 27 shots. The loss ensured that Princeton would finish last in the ECAC for the second consecutive year.

Princeton honored its six-member senior class the following night ahead of a showdown with No. 13 Yale (16-7-4, 11-6-3) on Senior Day with a pregame ceremony for Tom Kroshus, Tucker Brockett, Aaron Kesselman, captain Tyler Maugeri, Aaron Ave and Ryan Benitez.

Fogarty awarded senior goaltender Benitez his first official collegiate start, and the Denver, Colo., native stopped all four shots he encountered before being lifted for sophomore Colton Phinney at 5:04 of the first period.

The home side netted the first goal of the game, as sophomore Ben Foster scored his fourth goal of the season on assists from junior Jonathan Liau and Brockett. Yale answered with two goals of its own from Frankie Dichiara and Cody Learned — just 33 seconds apart — to close out the first period.

The Bulldogs struck first in the second period, as John Hayden extended the lead to 3-1. However, senior defenseman Aaron Ave cut the lead to one midway through the frame, giving the Princeton side hope against a strong Yale team. Liau and Brockett picked up their second assists of the night on Ave’s goal. Once again, though, Yale would respond quickly, as John Baicoco tacked on the Bulldogs’ fourth score at 11:06.

Dichiara would add his second tally of the night to put Yale comfortably ahead 5-2 just 2:42 into the final frame. After Phinney was pulled at 16:09 for an extra attacker, the Tigers’ final effort to try and bridge the three-goal deficit fell short, as the visitors scored again. Learned earned his second tally of the night by sending the puck into Princeton’s vacated goal with 2:15 remaining. Benitez once again entered play at this juncture, stopping two more shots before the final horn sounded for the last time at a Princeton Tiger home game at Baker Rink this season.

The Princeton squad will close its regular season on the road next weekend, squaring off against Dartmouth (13-10-4, 10-8-2) on Friday and Harvard (14-9-3, 10-7-3) on Saturday.

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