PRINCETON, N.J. – With time expiring on the clock and Princeton trailing 3-2, Mike Ambrosia fired the puck from above the faceoff circles. The rebound bounced to David Hallisey, who took the shot from in front of the crease.
But it didn’t go in.
Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand made the save, preserving the Spartans’ one-goal lead.
“[It was] just a rebound, the goalie made a great save,” Hallisey said. “I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently. Credit to the goalie.”
After struggling in the first two frames, the Tigers (2-7-1) rebounded in the third and outshot Michigan State 9-8 in the period. But Princeton couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net, and the Spartans (5-8-1) earned a 4-2 win at Baker rink.
“We wanted to make a story,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “We just fell a chapter short. But we stayed with in the third period. We went back to how we can play the hockey game.”
With the loss, Princeton finished the non-conference series with a split. After being shut out for over two games, the Tigers netted two or more tallies in back-to-back contests for the first time this season.
“It’s not fun losing, not happy with it, but I thoroughly enjoyed coaching these 28 guys. I see positive results here, into December and throughout the rest of the season.”
The Tigers attempted seven of their 17 third-period shots late in the third period, after cutting the score to 3-2.
“It’s a lot different playing from in front than from behind,” Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. “I give them credit, their team played hard, never quit, gave themselves a chance right until the very end. [It] took a big stop on our part, but I liked our 60 minutes I thought our guys played hard all night.”
Unlike Friday night, the Tigers couldn’t sustain a 60-minute effort, failing to match Michigan State in the first couple of periods.
“We didn’t come out with as much jam the first two periods,” Hallisey said. “In the first game we got them on their heels right away, and tonight unit took till a couple shifts in the first period of this game.”
Trailing 2-0, Fogarty called a timeout after Colton Phinney made a save on a Michigan State breakaway.
“We were kind of running around a little bit and kind of got back to Tiger hockey there,” Hallisey said.
Princeton still entered the third trailing 3-0, but goals from Kyle Rankin and Ryan Siiro cut brought the score to 3-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“We wanted to get one goal by the 10-minute mark, so we were ahead of schedule at that point,” Fogarty said. “You want to throw pucks to the net and crash the net.”
Junior Mike Ambrosia earned an assist on Rankin’s goal, marking Ambrosia’s first point of the season. Both players returned to the lineup on Friday night, and appeared on a line together.
“Getting a little depth back, that’s something, that obviously helps scoring,” Fogarty said.
“But when we stay with the program and move away from bad habits, we’re going to give ourselves opportunities to win game in and game out.”
The Spartans scored twice in the second period, both from right outside the crease, to take a 3-0 lead. Matt Berry added an empty net goal with two seconds left in the game.
Colton Phinney made 29 saves in the loss. Excluding the second period, the Tigers limited most of Michigan State’s chances to the perimeter.
“Our defense is playing unbelievable compared to [earlier in the season],” Hallisey said. “I think we’ve made great progress with our defense this season so far in the month of November. Hopefully that’ll continue and the team will continue to get better.”