This past weekend, the No. 7 ranked women’s hockey team (18–6–5, 15–4–3 ECAC) ended the 2018–19 regular season on a tough note, losing both games against No. 5 Clarkson (25–7–2, 16–5–1) and Saint Lawrence (14–13–7, 9–7–6). These results left the Tigers, as the fourth seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament, in a three-way tie for second with Clarkson and No. 9 Colgate (21–8–5, 15–4–3).
On Friday night, the Tigers lost 5–2 to the Golden Knights in a game that was 3–2 until the final minute and a half, when Clarkson scored two empty net goals. The Golden Knights came out fast, scoring two quick goals in the first minute and a half of the game. Clarkson scored again 30 seconds into the second period to take a commanding 3–0 lead.
At this point, Princeton decided to change from sophomore goalie Rachel McQuigge to junior goalie Stephanie Neatby, who played well in her relief appearance, allowing zero goals in her time on the ice. The Tigers found a second gear and were able to get their first goal when junior forward Carly Bullock put in a rebound off a shot by first-year Mariah Keopple. Then, in a 5-on-3 advantage, Princeton scored again to narrow the Golden Knights’ lead to one with just under 14 minutes remaining in the fourth period. Unfortunately, the Tigers were never able to find the back of the net to tie the game.
On Saturday against Saint Lawrence, the game entered the third period tied at zero. Based on both teams’ performances up until that point, it seemed the case that whoever broke the tie would win the game. Unfortunately, that goal came from the Saints, who took a 1–0 lead with about 14 minutes left in the game on a power play.
Ultimately, Saint Lawrence would extend this to 2–0 with an empty-net goal in the last 30 seconds of the game. Princeton was unable to generate its normal offensive pressure, only getting 18 shots on goal over the course of the entire game for an offense that, up until this point in the season, has averaged nearly 40 per game in conference play. Neatby played the whole game in goal against the Saints and made 19 saves on 20 shots.
Next weekend, the Tigers will host the Saints in the first round of the ECAC playoffs in a best-of-three series starting on Friday. Friday’s game will be played at 6 p.m., Saturday’s at 3 p.m., and Sunday’s (if necessary) also at 3 p.m.
Both of the games this season against Saint Lawrence have been tight, with the other at Hobey Baker Rink being decided on an overtime goal from first-year forward Maggie Connors in the last four seconds. Princeton was also outshot in this game by the Saints and will likely be looking to step up their offensive pressure starting on Friday night.
The other quarterfinal matchups have Cornell (1-seed) hosting Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Colgate hosting Harvard, and Clarkson hosting Quinnipiac.
For those unable to make the trip, the games will be streamed online on ESPN+. For those in the United States and for those abroad, there is a link on the GoPrincetonTigers.com website to access a stream. There will also be live updates available on the Princeton Women’s Hockey Twitter (@PWIH).