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Men’s hockey’s impressive season finally came to an end Saturday with a 4–2 defeat at the hands of Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Princeton had mounted a seven-game winning streak to win its first ECAC conference title since 2008 and qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but was unable to keep the run going against top-seeded Ohio State.

Despite the loss, Princeton’s run to the NCAA Tournament marked a significant turnaround for a team that finished last place in the ECAC just two years ago.

“They’ve done something special,” said Head Coach Ron Fogarty of his team and their senior leaders. “They’ll soon look back at this game and realize to get here is very difficult, and they did something spectacular for Princeton University.”

In Saturday’s game, however, Ohio State took control early, scoring two first period goals and stifling Princeton’s offense. The Orange and Black made seven power plays but was unable to convert on any of them, as Ohio State’s penalty kill unit held stout. Ohio State scored two more goals in the third period to bring the margin to 4–0. Finally, after Fogarty put a line full of seniors on the ice in the final minutes, defenseman Matt Nelson scored a power play goal with 26 seconds remaining, and forward David Hallisey added another with 10 seconds left to bring the score to 4–2 and put a silver lining on the game for the Tigers.

“If there is a way to go out well, that’s probably a way to go out,” said Hallisey. “Scoring as a senior class on the ice there twice in 45 seconds is a lot of fun.”

Before the late goals courtesy of the senior class, Princeton’s offense was unable to get much going. The Ohio State defense held Princeton’s offense scoreless for 59 minutes and limited two of the country’s most dynamic scorers, junior forwards Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau, to 11 shots and no goals.

“I was just concerned how we played knowing they had high-end talent,” said Ohio State Head Coach Steve Rohlik. “I think our lines did a pretty good job along with our defense.”

Defensively, the Tigers were set back with the loss of star junior defenseman Josh Teves, who was ejected for a hit to the head of Ohio State forward Dakota Joshua early in the second period.

“It was a good call,” said Fogarty. “We saw the review, it was unfortunate, [the] timing was close but the right call was made.”

“It would have helped to have him, but it kind of falls on everyone,” added Nelson. “We should have picked up the slack.”

Though the season ended on an unfortunate note, this Princeton team has both the talent and the drive to make similar runs in the near future.

“Where we’re at right now is a new starting point,” said Fogarty. “I know it’s going to be a contagious feeling for our three classes that will be returning, and they’ll pass that onto our incoming freshmen. We’ll be here again for sure.”

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