Heading into the weekend, men’s ice hockey (11–14–0 overall, 7–11–0 ECAC) had a prime opportunity to move into fifth place in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) with matchups against St. Lawrence (15–15–0, 10–8–0) and Clarkson (13–14–3, 7–9–2). Unfortunately for the Tigers, however, two tough losses sent them plummeting into seventh place in the ECAC.
On Friday night, the Tigers traveled to Canton, New York for a showdown with the St. Lawrence Saints, hoping to avenge a 5–4 defeat from earlier in the season. From the start, it was clear that vengeance was not in the cards for Princeton. Just 5:27 into regulation, Saints defenseman Philippe Chapleau whipped a cross-ice pass to forward Cameron Buhl for a one-timed goal.
On the goal, sophomore Princeton goaltender Ethan Pearson stretched his pad in an attempt to make the save, but he appeared to sustain an injury in the process. Just five minutes in, the Tigers were trailing in the game and down their standout goaltender.
According to head coach Ron Fogarty, Pearson will be reevaluated early this week. In the meantime, senior goalie Aidan Porter stepped into the game.
The Tigers managed to hold their own in the first period, however, outshooting the Saints 8–6. After a goal from St. Lawrence forward Felikss Gavars, the Tigers had an extended shift in the St. Lawrence zone in the final moments of the period. From just inside the left boards, sophomore defenseman Noah de la Durantaye one-timed a shot that eventually found its way to the stick of first-year forward Brendan Gorman. Depositing it past the goaltender, Gorman picked up his fifth goal of the year.
Heading into the second, the Tigers began to lose their grasp on the game. On a four-on-four, Saints defenseman Luc Salem took a quick point shot that deflected its way past Porter for a 3–1 lead. Later in the period, on a power play, Chapleau was able to sneak yet another point shot through for a three-goal Saints lead.
A similar story unfolded in the final period, with the final nail in the coffin coming with just over 12 minutes to go in regulation. The Tigers were caught sleeping in the defensive zone, as Saints forward Justin Paul moved past the Princeton defense as he rushed into the zone. Once he was by the first line of the defense, Paul snapped a shot top-shelf past Porter for a 5–1 lead. Sophomore forward Jack Cronin added a late goal for the Tigers, but the deficit was too large for the Tigers to overcome. The final score from Appleton Arena was 6–2 in favor of the Saints.
Princeton traveled to Clarkson’s Cheel Campus Center the next night for another matchup against the Golden Knights. While the team certainly played better this time around than they did in Canton the night before, the final was a 4–1 loss.
Yet again, the Tigers fell behind in the game’s opening minutes, with an early goal coming from Clarkson forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup. The goal was scored off of a Princeton defensive zone turnover to Clarkson forward Ayrton Martino, who found Schmidt-Svejstrup for the backhand goal. The Golden Knights controlled play for most of the period, outshooting the Tigers 10–6 and leaving the frame with a 2–0 advantage. The second goal of the period came courtesy of forward Mathieu Gosselin, who rushed into the Princeton zone alone and snapped a short-side shot past Porter.
The second period saw much better play for the Tigers, as they were able to cut the deficit in half on a goal from Durantaye. On a pretty give-and-go with Cronin and first-year forward David Jacobs, Durantaye ripped a shot past the Clarkson netminder for his fourth of the season.
With the Tigers searching for the tying goal in the third, the Golden Knights were able to shut the door when forward Anthony Callin cashed in on an odd-man rush. Princeton kept their foot on the gas, but continuous stops by Clarkson net-minder Ethan Haider held the Tigers off the board. With a few minutes to go, Clarkson sealed the game on a long empty-net goal from defenseman Kaelan Taylor.
“We played better [against] Clarkson on Saturday in terms of our effort and defensive zone play,” Fogarty wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “Losing an opportunity to gain points does hurt our chance to get into the top four. We will definitely rebound this weekend at Baker Rink.”
Despite the losses this weekend, the team remains in high spirits heading into the season’s final weeks.
“Our team is a tight-knit group, regardless of results,” Fogarty continued. “They support each other and love being around each other. The players celebrate learning to be a better team on a daily basis.”
The Tigers will return to Hobey Baker Rink for the final home games of the season in weekend matchups against Brown (9–14–2, 5–11–2) and Yale (5–16–4, 4–12–2).
Cole Keller is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.