Do you believe in miracles?
At the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., men’s hockey concluded its improbable run to the ECAC championship with an overtime 2–1 victory over Clarkson. Senior forward Max Becker scored the game-winning goal at the 2:37 mark in the overtime period, giving Princeton its first ECAC championship since 2008 and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The win Saturday represented the culmination of a remarkable journey from a seventh-place conference finish in the regular season to a conference tournament championship. Princeton upset each of the top three seeds en route to the title: It swept No. 2-seeded Union College 2–0 in the quarterfinal series, took down top-seeded Cornell 4–1 in the semifinal, and finished No. 3-seeded Clarkson in the final.
The championship game was a low-scoring, defensive affair, unusual for a Princeton team with one of the highest scoring offenses in the country. Junior defender Josh Teves scored the opening goal for Princeton, beating Clarkson’s netminder Jake Kielly on a breakaway at the 16:43 mark in the first period. Assists went to junior forwards Max Véronneau and Ryan Kuffner, two of the most prolific scorers in the country. Princeton clung on to that one-goal lead until late in the third period, when Clarkson entered full desperation mode. Josh Dickinson tipped in a goal with merely 6.4 seconds left, tying the game at one.
Despite the crushing end to regulation, Princeton managed to notch the game-winner in overtime. Sophomore forward Jeremy Germain found Becker in front of the net, and he sent it into the back of the net at the 2:37 mark to secure the win, kicking off a frenzied celebration for the Tigers. Freshman goaltender Ryan Ferland was critical to the win, saving 31 of 32 shots, including a handful of incredible saves.
If Princeton played the ECAC tournament 10 times, other teams might win nine. But not this tournament — not tonight. It took down three highly ranked teams, proving its ability and earning a chance to play with the country’s best at the NCAA tournament. The team will find out its place in the tournament bracket during a selection show tomorrow and begin play either March 23 or March 24.