Continuing a late-season surge, the men’s hockey team defeated conference foes St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend. The first marks just the next Princeton victory over a ranked opponent, while the second featured an overtime dagger from freshman defender Derek Topatigh.
With just two weekends remaining in the 2016-17 regular season, Princeton sits amidst a tightly-competitive ECAC conference. Among the 12 teams in the conference, just three league points — those scored in conference games — separate the No. 8 Tigers from No. 6 Clarkson. Wins over conference foes St. Lawrence and Clarkson will assist Princeton’s playoff hopes.
Similar to most games this season, the Tigers played as underdogs in both matches, despite holding home-rink advantage. Furthermore, just this past November, the Tigers had fallen to both teams – suffering a 0-4 shutout at the hands of St. Lawrence and then a 2-4 rout against Clarkson. Heading in, the Tigers knew the two ECAC opponents would put their late-season momentum to the test.
To be sure, the Tigers began the weekend in a deficit against a formidable St. Lawrence squad. After falling into an early 1-0 hole, the Tigers managed to equalize the score before the end of the first, thanks to sophomore Alex Riche. Princeton’s first goal came after a steam from sophomore forward Ryan Kuffner.
To put the icing on the cake, Princeton netted two more goals against the Saints before the end of the evening. The additional goals came from sophomore defender Josh Teves and junior forward Max Becker in the second and third periods.
The Tigers’ defensive efforts against the Saints dropped the former ECAC points leader to fourth place in the conference. Even more remarkably, the win on Friday snapped a 13-game Princeton losing streak against St. Lawrence.
In a flashback to the prior evening, the Tigers also stooped to an early hole against Clarkson. While neither team reached the net in a close first period, the Golden Knights managed to snag a 2-0 lead over the Orange and Black in the second period. It would be a strong third-period performance that rescued the Tigers, bringing the game into overtime. In the final period of regulation, both Teves, who had just scored the previous evening, and Kuffner, the team’s second-leading scorer, tallied goals for Princeton.
With Teves and Kuffner goals setting the stage, it would be freshman defender Derek Topatigh who would net the game’s most important goal. Just under two minutes into the overtime period, Topatigh, an unlikely hero, swung around the back of the goal before delivering the final dagger to the Golden Knights.
With the two wins this weekend, the Tigers have successfully won or tied their last six appearances, a streak that extends back to mid-January. Looking at the season, the Tigers have gone 11-5-2 since late November, a record that has featured numerous wins over NCAA-ranked opponents such as Bemidji State University and Quinnipiac. Looking ahead, the Tigers will visit Rensselaer and top-ranked Union College this upcoming weekend.