Things are not headed in the right direction for the Tigers as they approach the postseason.
Men’s hockey (8–16–2 overall, 7–11–1 ECAC) lost both games on the road this weekend as they continue to jockey for a playoff position in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The Tigers blew a third-period lead Friday in a 4–3 loss to Harvard (15–8–3, 12–5–2), then traveled up to Dartmouth (6–18–3, 5–13–2) on Saturday, where they lost 2–0 in a heartbreaker.
The Tiger started off well against Harvard, scoring two goals in the first period to open up an early 2–0 lead. Senior forward Finn Evans fired a wrister through traffic past Crimson goalie Mitchell Gibson to make it 1–0 5:39 into the game with assists from sophomore forward Nick Seitz and junior forward Liam Gorman. About six minutes later, senior defenseman Matthew Thom backhanded a shot that ricocheted off a Crimson defender and into the back of the net to make it 2–0.
The Tigers entered the second period with a 2–0 lead and almost made it all the way through with the score standing. However, with 53 seconds to go, Harvard forward Jack Donato snuck a shot short side past junior goalie Aiden Porter to cut the lead in half. Despite the late hiccup, the Tigers still had a lead heading into the final period.
Unfortunately, Harvard woke up in the third. Forward Matthew Coronato scored 1:27 into the period to tie the game 2–2. Then, just 1:02 later, the Crimson took the lead on a goal by forward Alex Gaffney to make it 3–2. To cap off their four-goal run, Harvard scored four minutes later to make it 4–2 on a power-play goal from forward Alex Laferriere. In total, Harvard scored all four of their goals in just 8:01 of game time between the second and third periods.
Princeton was able to cut into the deficit with 8:39 to go, as junior defenseman Pito Walton followed up his blocked shot and squeaked one through Gibson to make it 4–3. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that was all they could muster, as Gibson shut the door the rest of the way. The Tigers struggled to counter Harvard’s potent offense with the Crimson outshooting Princeton 45–28 overall.
Then, looking to rebound against Dartmouth, the Tigers lost a close one. The game was scoreless through the first two periods. Porter and Big Green goaltender Clay Stevenson dueled between the pipes, with Porter making 18 saves and Stevenson 19 through the first 40 minutes.
In the third, it seemed like much of the same, as the two goalies were keeping everything out. However, Dartmouth finally broke the ice with 1:25 to go. Big Green defensemen Sean Chisholm wristed a shot that was tipped on net by forward Braiden Dorfman. A scramble in front of the net ensued, and the puck ended up leaking behind Porter. The refs looked at the play for goaltender interference, but the goal stood after the review. Dorfman was credited with the backbreaker, making it 1–0 Dartmouth.
Chisholm added an empty netter with 23 seconds to go, sealing the 2–0 win for the Big Green. The win meant Dartmouth swept the season series against the Tigers, despite Porter saving 23 of the 25 attempts he faced in this one.
After the two losses, Princeton dropped to eighth in the ECAC, where they are tied with Brown for 23 points and are just one point above both St. Lawrence and Union. The Tigers are looking to host a series in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference playoffs — they would need to rank in eighth or higher in the standings to do so.
The Tigers are now in the final stretch of their season with three straight games at Hobey Baker Rink next weekend. Princeton hosts Colgate (13–15–4, 8–8–4 ECAC) on Friday, Cornell on Saturday (15–8–4, 10–6–4), and Harvard on Sunday to end the regular season.
Ben Burns is an Associate Sports Editor at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers basketball, hockey, and soccer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bwburns5_.