Princeton 5, @CORNELL 4 | @CORNELL 2, Quinnipiac 1 [OT]
The name of the book for this past weekend would be “A Tale of Two Nights”. Friday night our young team underestimated Princeton and paid the price. Saturday evening’s battle was one for the ages and I was so proud how we responded.
Friday night was not a great game and errors came from not bearing down on the chances we had. It looked like a long night when the Tigers took at 2-0 lead, scoring at 10:08 and 13:54 of the opening period and extending the margin to 3-0 at 7:13 of the second. Let me emphasize, once again; this is a very young team and without senior forward Max Andreev and Matt Stienburg (nursing injuries), they still hung in the game. I’ve been amazed at the resilience of this team by the way they have persevered the past couple of weeks.
We finally scored at 13:33 of the second period on a goal by Sophomore forward Kyle Penney, who redirected a shot from the point by Junior defenseman Sam Malinski, with an assist to Freshman blue liner Hank Kempf. The score remained 3-1 until the final three minutes of the game.
Junior forward Jack Malone scored with 2:57 left to cut our deficit to one (3-2), but 1:02 later, Princeton made it 4-2, with 1:55 remaining. With 49.7 seconds left, Junior defenseman Travis Mitchell reduced the margin with an extra-attacker goal. With our net empty and 24.1 seconds remaining in the game, a Princeton player’s 150-foot clearance shot found that empty net. And yet, we weren’t finished. Senior forward Kyle Betts won a faceoff to the right of the Princeton goalie. Malinski slid a quick pass across the blue line to Junior forward Ben Berard who unleashed his patented one-timer finding the net with 10.5 seconds to play for our final score!
Freshman goaltender Ian Shane made 18 saves and the Tigers’ netminder stopped 23 shots, including nine in the third period. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and the visitors were 0-for-2. The bottom line for this game is all of us, including the coaching staff, have to keep in perspective that regardless of our successes, we are still young and relatively inexperienced.
On Friday night, after winning at Colgate, #1 Quinnipiac came into Lynah Rink riding a 17-game unbeaten streak, including nine straight wins. The Bobcats were on top of the national polls and boasted a measly 1.1 goals-against-average. They mount a stingy defense with the top-ranked penalty kill. We also went into this game again without Andreev and Stienburg. The game played out the way we thought it might because Quinnipiac is very disciplined with great special teams.
We resolved to play in a low-scoring contest and the team followed the game plan to a “T”. We matched Quinnipiac’s strengths by killing off all four of their power-play opportunities, while we went 2-for-3. The Bobcats like to pump a lot of shots on net and our guys did a great job blocking shots. The first period ended scoreless. Quinnipiac had eight shots on goal to our six. The visitors dominated play in the second period with 19 shots on goal but we held the fort and took a 1-0 lead at 5:51 of the period. On the power-play, Junior forward Ben Berard fired a shot from inside the right point that flew over the goaltender’s glove. Receiving assists were Malinski and Malone.
In the third period with 14:21 to play, the Bobcats tied the game with an even-strength goal sending the action into overtime. Overtime began with each team skating three players, as is the new format standardized by the NCAA starting with the 2020-21 season. A Quinnipiac slashing penalty at 4:03 of the 5-minute OT, while the Bobcats were attempting to stop a 2-on-1 Cornell break, resulted in a 4-on-3 player advantage for us. With 15 seconds left in overtime, Berard took a pass at the right point from Malone, drove into the circle and as a defender closed on him, Berard snapped his shot beating the goaltender over his glove and ringing the puck off the near post and into the net. The ‘sold-out-to-limited-capacity’ crowd went into an uproar. And, of course, the bench had a pretty good time of it too!
Shane was outstanding in goal with 33 saves, including two in overtime. The Quinnipiac goalie, also a freshman, stopped 18 shots. We are now 3-0-1 in the new ECAC overtime format.
The weekend split left us unchanged in the national polls at #8 and Quinnipiac dropped to #2. the Bobcats still lead the ECAC standings with 30 points, followed by Clarkson with 27, and Cornell with 23. Our current overall record is 13-4-1, 8-2-1 [ECAC].
We play at home this weekend and hope our lessons have been learned well. Dartmouth is here on Friday evening, followed by the always big battle with Harvard on Saturday (both games at 7PM). I’m hopeful the University will open Lynah to even more of the Faithful this weekend.