Goaltender Chelsea Laden of the No. 6 Quinnipiac (26-7-3, 15-5-2 Eastern College Athletic Conference) recorded her nation-leading 15thand 16thshutouts of the season as the Bobcats swept Princeton (15-14-2, 13-8-1) in a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal matchup this weekend, ending the Tigers’ season.
In Hamden, Conn. the Tigers and Bobcats skated their way through two very different games that had one important aspect in common — the “0” on the visitor score sheet.
InFriday’spostseason opener, the Tigers endured their worst period of hockey of the season, as Quinnipiac raced out to a 4-0 advantage after 20 minutes of play. Emma Woods, Taylar Cianfarano, Lindsey West, and Erica Udén Johansson all notched goals for the home side, putting the game out of reach early. Cianfarano added another tally in the second period, as the Tigers managed only two shots on goal to the Bobcats’ 17 in the frame. Shiann Darkangelo and Nicole Connery put the finishing touches on the game with scores in the final period of action. Junior goaltender Kimberly Newell stopped 37 of 44 shots in the losing effort, with Laden stopping a paltry 13 Princeton attempts on the other side of the rink.
After a disheartening 7-0 result in game one, it would have been reasonable to expect a similar thrashing in game two. To their credit, the Tigers and head coach Jeff Kampersal would not let that happen.
The Tigers held tight in the opening period ofSaturday’scontest, as the score remained goalless after 20 minutes despite just three Princeton shots on goal. At4:24of the second period, however, the Bobcats struck first on a goal from Connery. Newell managed to keep the game competitive with a superb effort in goal, stopping 29 of 30 Quinnipiac shots in the first two periods alone.
The final period of the game — and the series — proved to be the Orange and Black’s best. The Tigers limited their opponents to just six shots — all of which Newell turned aside — and put some pressure on the Quinnipiac goal in a desperate attempt to keep their season alive. However, Laden and the Bobcats held tight, and when Nicole Brown sent the puck through Princeton’s vacant net with 12 seconds to go, Princeton’s season was suddenly over.
It was the last game in Princeton colors for the team’s four seniors, Ali Pankowski, Brianna Leahy, Brianne Mahoney and Ashley Holt. The Tigers finish with a 15-14-2 overall record, including 13-8-1 in ECAC play (6thplace) and 7-2-1 in Ivy League action (2ndplace).
North of their female counterparts, Princeton Men’s Hockey (4-21-3, 2-18-2 ECAC) dropped both of its final games of the regular season weekend, falling in road battles to Dartmouth (15-10-4, 12-8-2) 3-1 and No. 16 Harvard (15-11-3, 11-8-3) 5-0.
In their meetingon Fridayin Hanover, N.H. Princeton and Dartmouth offered a taste of what is to come in the opening round of the ECAC postseason. Princeton, finishing twelfth in the ECAC, will travel back to the Granite State next weekend to take on the fifth seeded Big Green in a best-of-three opening round series. If the Tigers are to pull off the upset, they will have to improve uponFriday’sperformance.
Playing for ECAC seeding as well as a chance at the Ivy League championship (which Yale wonon Saturday), Dartmouth came out strongon Fridaynight. Playing in front of 3,618 fans at Thompson Arena, Carl Hesler and Brandon McNally scored fewer than two minutes apart — at12:36 and 14:20in the first period — to put the home side on top. Despite twelve shots on goal, the Tigers could not beat Dartmouth netminder James Kruger in the opening frame.
Junior Michael Zajac cut the deficit in half at8:35in the second period, netting his first goal of the season — an unassisted effort. However, with freshman Matt Nelson in the penalty box for boarding, the backbreaker came with just one second remaining in the middle period, as Grant Opperman’s power play goal extended Dartmouth’s lead back to two.
The Tigers managed to win the shot battle, firing 10 shots to Dartmouth’s two in the final period. Despite this offensive flare, Kruger and the Big Green shut the door, and the game ended with a 3-1 win for the home team. Kruger finished with 26 saves on 27 shots, while sophomore Colton Phinney made 19 saves on 22 attempts on the other end of the ice.
The following night, the Orange and Black met with rival No. 16 Harvard to conclude the teams’ respective ECAC and Ivy League conference schedules. Once again, the Tigers found themselves in a hole early. With Nelson in the box for slashing, the Crimson’s Kyle Criscuolo opened the scoring with a power play goal at6:49. Tyler Moy found the back of the net at9:05 and 17:15to give the home team a comfortable 3-0 advantage after 20 minutes of play.
After a scoreless second period, Jimmy Vesey’s shorthanded goal at15:22and Devin Tringale’s tally at17:31in the third period put the result of the game beyond a doubt. Phinney stopped 23 of 28 Harvard shots, while Harvard’s Steve Michalek denied all 27 that he faced in a shutout effort.
The 5-0 final in Cambridge, Mass. closed the door on Princeton’s regular season, but there is still at least one more weekend of Princeton Hockey yet to be played this winter. The Tigers will return to Hanoveron Fridayto start a best-of-three ECAC Tournament opening round matchup, squaring off atFridayat7 p.m., Saturdayat 7 p.m., and (if necessary)Sunday at 5 p.m.