PRINCETON, N.J. – When Princeton ventured to the North Country in November, it left winless – and without scoring a single goal.
On Saturday night, three months after the road trip, the Tigers (4-17-3, 2-14-2 ECAC) fought to a 1-1 tie with St. Lawrence, taking three of four points on the weekend. It was Princeton’s first unbeaten weekend of the season, and first since March of 2013.
“You can see the confidence level of the guys increase when they’re not satisfied with three out of four points,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “At the beginning of the season, one of the four points would’ve been a pleasant surprise for us. Now they’re not satisfied with three out of four.”
With the tie, Princeton snapped a four-game losing streak against the Saints (16-11-3, 12-5-1 ECAC), who beat the Tigers 3-0 in November.
“But they wanted to win, they wanted to sweep,” Fogarty said. “It would’ve been the first time we would’ve swept Clarkson St Lawrence since 2007 at home so our guys knew about that, they wanted it really badly.
“Their level of focus and desire right now is great heading towards the playoffs.”
Saturday’s game mimicked Friday’s, as the Tigers surrendered a first-period goal to Patrick Doherty less than midway through the frame.
The Tigers rebounded in the second and earned more quality scoring chances than the Saints. At the 12:49 mark, Mike Ambrosia buried a power play tally from the right faceoff circle to tie the game.
The teams played a scoreless third before entering overtime, when both teams took four shots. Princeton created several scoring chances in the extra frame, including a rush from Tucker Brockett that ended with a save from Kyle Hayton. St. Lawrence’s freshman netminder finished with 21 saves.
The Tigers converted one of five power play chances, and killed off all four penalties.
“St. Lawrence lost last night, so they were going to come out with a push and they’re a very good team and they’re second place in the conference for a reason,” Fogarty said. “But our guys have to get ready to go all the time. I thought the second period again [we] did a good job and in overtime I thought we had some great chances.
” Our fitness level’s right where we need it to be at this point of the season.”
In the third period, the Tigers were again pinned in their own zone, fending off St. Lawrence attacks to keep the game tied. The Saints attempted 32 shots to Princeton’s 13.
“If we get pucks deep and get in their end and try to sustain some pressure [that’ll] really keep it out of your end,” Rankin said. “But at the same time, as much as they had zone time, we kept them to the perimeter. I don’t think they had one Grade A chance of all that time.”
The Tigers kept most of St. Lawrence’s third period attempts to between the two faceoff circles and the blue line. Colton Phinney made 16 saves in the frame, en route to 34 total.
The Tigers are still last in the ECAC, but are now 2-3-2 in their last seven games.
“I think we’re just really buying into our systems,” Rankin said. “I think at the beginning of the year it was tough for a lot of guys to grasp that the games we’re going to have to win are 2-1, 1-1 games. But we’re seeing it really pay off for us, just being patient in these tight games.”
Ryan Siiro and sophomore defenseman assisted on Ambrosia’s goal. Fellow sophomore defensemen Quin Pompi missed the game due to an injury. Fogarty said the defender, who had played in every game this season, will be re-evaluated on Monday. Marlon Sabo took his place, but saw limited playing time in the third as Princeton went with five defenders.