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Four-point weekend moves w. hockey closer to playoffs

Finally.

All season, the women's hockey team has been working towards a victory over one of the nation's elite teams, only to fall short every time.

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A last-minute goal by No. 5 Minn-esota-Duluth Dec. 10 left Princeton with a tie, and early leads against No. 3 New Hampshire Nov. 14 and No. 1 Brown Dec. 4 were squandered.

Friday, though, the Tigers put it all together — in what was perhaps their best effort of the season — knocking off UNH, 4-2, at Baker Rink.

Saturday, Princeton skated past Maine, 4-2, to give the Tigers (10-8-5 overall, 8-7-3 ECAC) their first Eastern College Athletic Conference weekend sweep of the season.

"We've been working so hard all season, and it seems that every close game has been decided by a five-minute lapse," sophomore forward Andrea Kilbourne said. "Against UNH we didn't have any of those lapses, and it felt great to finally be rewarded for how hard we've been working all season.

"That was the best three periods we've put together all season [against UNH]. We got up quick, and we didn't even think about losing. It didn't even come into our mind that we could lose that game."

The Tigers moved three points ahead of ninth-place St. Lawrence in the league standings. With six league games remaining, Princeton must finish in the top eight to secure a conference playoff berth.

Scoring leader

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Junior forward Abbey Fox paced the Tigers with five points on the weekend, scoring a goal and assisting on four others. Freshman forward Nikola Holmes tallied four points and Kilbourne three.

Friday, the Tigers outplayed UNH (19-7-0, 12-5-0) from the opening faceoff. Tallies by Holmes and Kilbourne gave Princeton a 2-0 lead six minutes, 45 seconds into the second period. An all too familiar storyline seemed to unfold, though, as the Wildcats responded, scoring goals just 1:52 apart to knot the score at two with less than nine minutes remaining in the second stanza.

The Tigers, though, would answer. Just two minutes later, Holmes knocked in her second score of the game on the power play. Then, before the dust had settled from Holmes' go-ahead goal, freshman forward Sarah Brownlee and sophomore forward Melissa Deland found themselves with a two-on-one breakaway into the UNH end.

Deland slid the puck across ice to Brownlee, who lifted a shot over sprawling Wildcat goaltender Alicia Roberts to give Princeton a 4-2 lead with 5:34 to play in the second period.

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Freshman netminder Sarah Ahlquist made the lead stand, turning aside 11 shots in the final period to preserve the victory. Ahlquist made 26 saves on the game.

Perhaps coming off the high of the UNH win, the Tigers came out flat against league doormat Maine (5-18-1, 1-17-1) Saturday. The Tigers outshot the Black Bears, 41-18, but had trouble finding the back of the net until the pressure was on, answering every Black Bear goal with a goal of their own.

A mere 35 seconds after Maine knotted the score at two early in the third period, junior forward Lucy Firestone collected a rebound in front of the net and stuffed the puck in to give the Tigers the lead for good, 3-2. It was Firestone's first goal of the season.

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