PRINCETON, N.J. – In the third period, down by three goals with less than five minutes left, Princeton was pressing.
But it was too late for the Tigers (4-18-3, 2-15-2 ECAC), who fell 4-1 to the Bears (8-17-1, 5-13-1 ECAC) on Friday night.
“You pull a goaltender, then you see an effort level go up. Our guys are protecting an inanimate object harder than they protect Colton Phinney, and that’s what’s discouraging,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said.
“They’re embarrassed if someone gets an empty net goal. You should be embarrassed if someone gets a shot on Colton Phinney.”
That was the message Fogarty gave to the team post-game, just one week after Princeton’s first unbeaten weekend of the season. After Fogarty’s talk, the team held a players-only meeting.
“We talked about how we need to be better than how we played today,” junior Kevin Liss said. “And specifically the last five minutes, we played with some jump that we hope we play [with] for the next 60 minutes coming up here.”
The Bears took a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Bird goal late in the first period, but it was a three-goal second period that hurt Princeton.
With eight minutes left in the frame, Marc Naclerio collected a puck and tossed it into the net as he fell to the ice, giving Brown a 2-0 lead. Just minutes later, Sam Lafferty tossed one that went off Colton Phinney’s leg and in, giving Brown a 3-0 lead. The Bears added a fourth goal with seven seconds left in the second, thanks to Nick Lappin.
“I felt the goals were the product of us being out of position,” Fogarty said. “Look at all the four goals and the goal from behind the net, Colton’s out of position, [it] goes off his left leg and in. The guy coming off the bench, we missed that coverage.
“They capitalized on the opportunities from our fault of being in the wrong position.”
Phinney finished with 23 saves, while Brown’s Tim Ernst stopped 31 – including 19 in the last frame. He allowed one tally on the night, when Kevin Liss scored a shorthanded breakaway goal with 8:12 minutes left.
“I was pretty tied up on the way in,” Liss said. “To be honest with you, it was kind of all a blur how everything went down, but I ended up on the ice and kind of sliding into the goalie there, so I didn’t even really see how it went in.”
It was the first collegiate goal for Liss, who went from defenseman to forward after he returned from his injury. Defenseman Quin Pompi did not play, and will be out four to six weeks. Marlon Sabo took his place on a pair with Tom Kroshus.
Princeton outshot Brown 32-27, and took 20 shots on the Bears in the third period. Princeton played for 4:54 minutes with an empty net.
“I think the most important thing is that we left off on a good note,” Liss said. It’s tough to take a positive away from a game like that, but you got to do it and I think the last five minutes really are what we need to bring every game.”