It wasn't supposed to be this difficult.
After a two-game road trip in which women's hockey could manage only a tie and a loss at Minnesota, Princeton was expected to capture two much-needed league victories in a home-and-home series against perennial doormat Yale.
Midway through the third period of their Jan. 3 encounter with the Bulldogs, however, the Tigers (7-7-1 overall, 5-5-0 Eastern College Athletic Conference, 3-2-0 Ivy League) found themselves trailing 1-0 and in danger of handing homestanding Yale a rare victory.
Finally, with just over 10 minutes to play, freshman forward Abbey Fox tied the game for Princeton with an unassisted goal. Although the Tigers would record 17 shots on goal in the third period alone, the game still appeared destined for overtime as Yale goaltender Laurie Belliveau repeatedly stifled Princeton's scoring opportunities.
"She's definitely the best goalie in the league," said junior forward Ali Coughlin. "She's what kept them in the game."
Saving the day
Still, despite Belliveau's heroics, Princeton prevailed. In the final minute of the contest, the Tigers put together a spectacular four-pass sequence that culminated in freshman Laura Hays' game-winning goal with 39 seconds remaining.
After winning for the first time in over a month, Princeton returned home for a rematch with Yale (3-8-1, 1-8-1, 0-5-0) the following afternoon. Although the Tigers again dominated the contest, they were able to score just once. Freshman defender Lucy Firestone scored her first career goal late in the second period, and with senior goaltender Tammy Orlow recording her initial shutout of the season, the 1-0 margin held until the final buzzer.
Were it not for the spectacular play of Belliveau, the Tigers would likely have prevailed by at least four goals in each game. In spite of his team's low scoring output, however, Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal '92 was thrilled that the Tigers were able to move into sole possession of sixth place in the ECAC and a three-way tie for first in the Ivy League.
"They showed a lot of guts in coming back in the first game," Kampersal said. "(Belliveau) was incredible. We barraged her with shots on Sunday, but she was on top of her game."
While the Tiger offense was kept in check by the almost impermeable Yale netminder, Princeton's attack was strong enough to salvage a tie at Minnesota (9-4-1) Dec. 17. Although the Tigers had been defeated by the Golden Gophers 5-3 the previous evening, Coughlin made certain that her team's three-game losing streak would come to an end. The junior recorded her second hat trick of the season as the Tigers rallied to a 5-5 deadlock.