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Men’s hockey celebrates after a goal against no. 5 Clarkson.

Photo courtesy of Shelley Szwast / GoPrincetonTigers

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the offense showed men’s hockey some love to help the team pick up its fourth overall win and second conference win of the season.

The Tigers kicked off their penultimate homestand with a 6–3 victory against St. Lawrence on Friday night. Heading into the game, the Tigers (4–17–4, 2–13–3 ECAC) had lost four in a row, but the offense showed some life with three goals in three consecutive games. Facing the ECAC’s worst defense in terms of goals allowed, Princeton was hopeful that it could get over the hump and turn its offensive work into two points. Turns out it did just that.

For the Saints (3–23–4, 1–16–1 ECAC), the game started out about as well as possible on away ice. A quick goal just 1:39 into the game quieted the home crowd, who has continued providing great home ice advantage despite the team’s struggles. The Saints would head into the first intermission leading 2–1 after reclaiming the lead with a goal late in the period. 

That would be the last successful period for St. Lawrence, whose Valentine’s Day unfortunately ended in heartbreak.

Three goals by the Tigers in the second period gave them the lead for good. Senior forward Liam Grande got the party started with a power play goal to tie the game 3:35 into the stanza. Less than a minute later, junior defenseman Reid Yochim perfectly drew two skaters to his corner of the ice before passing to his wide open linesman and classmate, junior defender Matthew Thom. Thom connected, giving the white and orange its first lead of the night. Yochim would be rewarded for his teamwork later in the period, when he found the back of the net for the first time this season. Princeton would never look back, extending the lead to three goals by the time the final horn sounded.

Princeton’s victory over St. Lawrence marked just the second ECAC win for the club — and their first one on home ice. The Tigers defeated St. Lawrence earlier this year in New York, completing the season sweep of the Saints. 

The Tigers hoped that their first victory in more than a month could lead to their biggest win of the season against No. 5 Clarkson. In a game that meant little more than pride and seeding, the Tigers battled the Golden Knights and led in shots on goal after the first period. However, Clarkson took the lead in the second with two unanswered goals, and their signature trap defense was too much to overcome, as the Tigers eventually lost 3–1. 

With just two weekends left in the ECAC regular season, Princeton is looking to find a winning formula heading into the conference tournament. The Tigers’ remaining four games are all against teams currently playing in the first weekend of the tournament. Sitting 11 points behind eighth-place Yale, it is almost mathematically impossible for the Tigers to earn enough points to host a first-round playoff series as the eighth-place team — at the very least, Princeton would need to win out. Most likely, however, the Tigers will use these next four games to prepare for the playoffs and celebrate their seniors in what will probably be their last home series next weekend. 

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