PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton was pinned in its own zone in the third, with the game tied 1-1. An exhausted Joe Grabowski sent a pass up the ice, but it bounced off the boards and caromed down for an icing.
Jonathan Liau raced down to beat the call, and the icing was waved off.
“[Liau] had a step on the D so he was racing to beat out the icing,” Tucker Brockett said. “I saw he was going to beat it out, and then honestly couldn’t tell you what happened from there. The next thing I knew the puck was in front and right on my stick.”
Brockett took the shot from right outside the crease, putting Princeton ahead for good. The Tigers (4-17-2, 2-14-1 ECAC) also received a goal from Aaron Kesselman en route to the 2-1 victory over the Knights (11-14-4, 8-77-2).
“It was a great team win,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “Guys are banged up, a lot of ice bags. And that’s what it takes to win. Winning is difficult. If it was easy, everyone would be winning.”
Before earning the win, Princeton faced an onslaught of shots in the final minute of regulation when Clarkson pulled its netminder.
“The time seemed to go really, really slowly,” netmidner Colton Phinney said
“I knew we were going to block some shots and I knew they were just going to throw everything they could at the net. [I tried] to make the saves and believe in our team to block it, which they did.”
Phinney made stop after stop, contributing to his total of 28 saves on the night.
“I trust the five guys I put on the ice, and I can’t do anything behind the bench,” Fogarty said. “Just realize that Monday through Thursday we did the best we can preparing our team, and they executed.
“That’s why they celebrate in the dressing room and we prepare for St. Lawrence immediately.”
After keeping the puck out of the net in the third, Princeton earned its first win over Clarkson this season, and its first win after trailing after the first period. Before Friday night, the Tigers were 0-12-0 this season when down after the opening frame.
But the first period was difficult for the Tigers, who spent much of the period in their own zone. Phinney’s play kept the puck out of the net for half the period, but Clarkson’s Terrance Amorosa gave the Knights a 1-0 lead 13:15 minutes into the game.
“I thought we were stretching out too far and we weren’t supporting the puck,” Fogarty said. “Very sloppy.”
After entering first intermission down by a goal, the players knew they weren’t playing Tiger hockey.
“Everyone was saying that’s just not how we play, that wasn’t our period, we came out a little flat, kind of played a little too tentative,” Brockett said. “[We] just got to get back to just playing hockey and having fun out there, so that was the message coming in after the first.”
After getting very few scoring chances in the opening period, the Tigers rebounded with 20 attempts, some quality shots and the game-tying goal in the second.
“You saw a lot of underneath passes, we were supporting the puck and attacking the blue line with speed, not looking for the puck over our shoulder,” Fogarty said. “We were attacking with the puck and had some time to get it in deep and get some pressure.”
Tom Kroshus and Eric Robinson assisted on Kesselman’s second period goal. It was Robinson’s first game back after missing last weekend due to a “team decision.”
The Tigers are now 2-3-1 in their last six games, and have played better lately. Princeton snapped a two-game losing streak after dropping last weekend to Colgate and Cornell.
“[We were] better defensively,” Fogarty said. “We have to eliminate the quick one hitters, the breakaway and we have to make sure five guys are always pushing out and that’s this year and in the future.”