Princeton Falls To St. Lawrence in OT

Tucker goalPRINCETON, N.J. – With 15 minutes left in regulation, Princeton once again trailed St. Lawrence by a goal. The goal represented the game, the series and possibly Princeton’s season.

But with 15 seconds left, the Tigers once again tied it.

Baker Rink erupted as Molly Contini scored the game-tying goal – her second goal of the game – to send the deciding contest into overtime.

The Tigers kept the momentum in overtime, opening up the period with three good chances.

But it was the Saints who scored 5:37 minutes into the extra frame to win the game 4-3 and the series.

“The most positive I’ve ever been before a period was before overtime,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said. “I thought for sure that we would get it first. We outshot them 7-1 and they, it happens. It was an awesome series.

“Our kids have a slot of heart and soul.”

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After the loss, Kampersal said he told his team that he loves and respect them.

“They just played so hard,” Kampersal said. “They just play until they can’t play anymore. [In] past years if we go down two we might not battle back, but this year we always did. We always battled.”

While the Tigers are out of the ECAC tournament, there is a chance they can make the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid. Princeton would need the top seeds in each conference to win their respective tournaments. The Tigers are seventh in the PairWise.

“We’ve never been in [this situation],” Kampersal said. “In ’06 we lost in the semifinals to Brown and it was a game, we crushed them and lost 1-0 and so I had a feeling that we were going to go. That was the final four so it was not really a wait. But yeah this would be a wait for sure.”

Princeton scored 8:18 into the first period. Cassidy Tucker collected the puck off a faceoff scramble and shot it from the top of the left circle to give Princeton the 1-0 lead.

But the team lost Kelsey Koelzer to an injury for the second night in a row, and the team’s top defender missed the rest of the period.

“She banged up her shoulder,” Kampersal said. I think it’s pretty significant.”

St. Lawrence’s Brooke Webster scored twice in the second period to give the Saints a 2-1 lead. But Molly Contini scored with 4:24 left in the period to tie the game.

“The second period was big time scrambly and then to lose Kelsey [with] two minutes to go in the first rattled us a little bit,” Kampersal said. “But they still hung in there and that was a huge to tie it up. I know [St. Lawrence] went ahead and we still battled to the very end to tie it up.”

Amanda Boulier gave St. Lawrence the 3-2 lead early in the third period, forcing Princeton to try and tie the game. But the final regulation frame was choppy, interrupted with some penalties – including a questionable call on Jaimie McDonell.

But a slashing call on Hannah Miller gave the Tigers a power play with 1:56 left. The Tigers pulled Kimberly Newell for the 6-on-4, when Contini tied it.

“They were on it,” Kampersal said. “They worked hard all day. I was just hoping that something good would happen for them because they deserved it.”

Kimberly Newell finished with 32 saves in the loss, while Grace Harrison stopped 24 for the Saints. Newell has over 3,000 saves for her career now, and the Tigers have 22 wins – the most in program history.

“I’ve been doing it for 20 years and this year has been the most fun,” Kampersal said. “It’s been the most trying year as well. “There’s a lot of things that our kids have battled and worked through, and they’ve been resilient and all year. It’s an awesome group. The seniors

“It’s an awesome group. The seniors were awesome, Kimberly was sellar in net again. Jamie [McDonell’s] a work horse, [Cristin Shanahan] was great today and then Karen [MacDonald] and Maddie Peake are just two inspirational leaders.”

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Princeton vs. St. Lawrence 2.26.16 Photos (ECAC Quarterfinals Game 1)

Karlie Lund comes close to scoring

Here are photos from Princeton’s 1-0 loss to St. Lawrence on Friday in the ECAC Quarterfinals:

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Kelsey Koelzer Returns From Injury, Sparks Comeback

koelzerPRINCETON, N.J. – When Jeff Kampersal walked into Princeton’s locker room after a 4-3 comeback win over St. Lawrence on Friday night, he told the team a story about Larry Bird.

Kampersal, who grew up a Celtics fan, told the team of watching Larry Bird hit his head on the floor, leave the game and return to lead the Celtics to victory in Game 5 over Indiana.

“That reminded me of Kelsey,” Kampersal said.

Koelzer was skating when she was hit by St. Lawrence’s Hannah Miller. Koelzer dropped to the ice and laid on her stomach for several minutes, not moving.

“I was trying to break the puck in on the power play and I cut across at the blue line and one of their girls decided to step up and take the body instead,” Koelzer said. “So I mean, you know.”

The team doctor came out looked at Koelzer – who, according to Kampersal, had the wind knocked out of her and hurt her rib.

“The doctor was looking at me and I was just trying to convince them to get me back out there,” Koelzer said.

Instead, Koelzer headed to the tunnel. But she came back not long after to play on Princeton’s five-minute major.

And 10 seconds into her shift, with less than a minute left in the period, Koelzer tied the game.

“The power play did a great job of breaking the puck in and retrieving it,” Koelzer said. “All four if their players were basically below the goal line and [Cassidy] Tucker was able to get it to me. I was actually looking for Karlie Lund on the back door but I think it hit one of their girls and went right in the five hole, so it was a pretty good bounce but I’d say it’s definitely a product of hard work.”

Initially, Koelzer was credited with the team’s third goal. Later it was changed to Keiko DeClerck’s tally as she tipped the point, but Koelzer finished the game with two points to help force Game 3.

“The main problem was that our shots weren’t really getting through at the beginning of the game, so what I mainly tried to do is change the angle of the shot just to get it through,” Koelzer said. “Once again I think it hit a couple people but just found its way to the back of the net.

“So we had a good net drive and whoever gets awarded with that goal, it was just hard work getting the puck high and go to the net.”

Late Goal Propels Princeton To Tie With Brown

Brown goalPRINCETON, N.J. After playing in so many one-goal games this year, Princeton found itself in a similar situation. Down 2-1 against Brown on Saturday night, on senior night, the Tigers desperately tried to send one past Tim Ernst in the third period.

They came close. They kept coming close.

And this time, for the first time in a long, long time, Princeton tied it.

“[I] just drove the net, got a nice pass from [Eric Robinson] and just like hit off my leg and found its way into the net,” Max Veronneau, who tied the game with seven seconds left said. “It was a pretty lucky goal but we’ll take it.”

The Tigers followed with some chances in overtime, but the teams setttled to a 2-2 tie Saturday night at Baker. Princeton, the 12th seed, will travel to Clarkson next weekend for the first round of the ECAC tournament.

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Princeton pulled off the tie despite dressed just 16 skaters and then losing defenseman Matt Nelson to an injury in the middle of the game – dropping Princeton to 15 skaters. To help make up for an already-depleted defense thanks to Quin Pompi’s absence and an ECAC-imposed suspension on Tommy Davis, the Tigers moved Stuart Pomeroy – who’s normally a defenseman but had dressed as a forward – back to the blue line.

“It’s tough to adjust but we have some good, good players who can step in the lineup and play well,” Veronneau said. “[Hayden] Anderson played very well, [Marlon] Sabo played very well. Basically everybody’s had to pick up their game that much [more]. It was a pretty good game with the depleted lineup.”

The Tigers dominated the third frame as they tried to tie the game, a flip from the second period – where Brown was the better team. The Bears finished wtih 19 shots in the period and a number of scoring chances from the slot and near the net.

“Every game’s tough,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “You’re going to get pushed back and it just we were in the game.”

Brown took the 1-0 lead early in the second period thanks to Davey Middleton. Princeton 3:21 responded minutes later with Stuart Pomeroy’s first collegiate goal. But the Tigers gave up the lead on a 5-on-3 power play goal to Tyler Bird late in the frame. The puck bounced over Colton Phinney and into the net to give Brown the 2-1 lead.

“It was [an] unforunate 5-on-3 goal against [that] goes up and over,” Fogarty said. “We were doing a great job systematically, keeping the shots on the outside and [it] was unforuante.”

After tying the game late, the Tigers had a couple of scoring chances in the third, including a 2-on-1 where Kyle Rankin fed Ryan Kuffner, but Tim Ernst came up with the save.

“We had some preatty good looks there at the end, had a great look in overtime,” Fogarty said. “It was great. Guys just stuck with the system. We got back to playing last weekend how we played at Union, RPI and last night was just uncharacteristic. So it was good to see us today, just shows that last night was uncharacteristic.”

The tie snapped a nine-game losing streak for Princeton.

“It was great leadership by [seniors] Kyle [Rankin] and Mike [Ambrosia] throughout the year,” Fogarty said. “We’ve had 14 one-goal losses where we pulled the goal through the year and Mike and Kyle ave kept the team focused. Our goal is to try to win a playoff seris and that was a good effort tonight to bounce back and play 60 full minutes. With a decimated lineup.”

The Tigers outshot the Bears 45 t0 37. Ernst made 43 stops while Phinney finished with 33 saves.

“It feels pretty good. We would’ve liked the win in overtime, we had a few chances but we’ll take the tie for now and hopefully we can build on that for next week in the playoffs.”

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Comebacks Lead Princeton To Win Over St. Lawrence

koelzerPRINCETON, N.J. – Down 2-0 in the second period, things looked bleak for Princeton. The Tigers were two periods away from potentially losing, and potentially ending its season.

But the Tigers weren’t worried

“We had confidence,” Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal said. I told before no matter what happens, if they score first it’s not over, if we score first we don’t win. So we just need to play.”

The Tigers did just that – living up to the relentless motto plastered on the hallway outside the locker room. Twice the Tigers erased a deficit to beat St. Lawrence 4-3 and push the ECAC series to Game 3 on Sunday.

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“In the second and third period they had a lot of emotions so to come back from two was huge,” Kampersal said.

“That’s been our word all year, is just relentless and just go until they tell us we can’t play anymore.”

St. Lawrence took the lead on a Justine Reyes 7:45 minutes into the first period. The Saints extended their lead on an Amanda Boulier goal at roughly the same mark in the second.

Less than two minutes later, Princeton cut the lead to one goal when Stephanie Sucharda joined the rush and converted a Keiko DeClerck pass.

But 6:38 minutes later, Hannah Miller hit Kelsey Koelzer – dropped Koelzer to the ice. Princeton’s top defender laid on the ice for several minutes before heading down the tunnel.

“I was trying to break the puck in on the power play and I cut across at the blue line and one of their girls decided to step up and take the body instead,” Koelzer said.

Princeton was awarded a five-minute major for the hit. And on Princeton’s power play, Koelzer returned.

Just several seconds into her shift, the defender tied the game – with 52 seconds left in the period.

But the Saints regained the lead early in the second period on a power play goal from Amanda Boulier.

“That third goal was a killer because it was a penalty that we shouldn’t have taken,” Kampersal said. Then we misread the PK. Our PK’s really good, but we totally had a botched assignment and let [Boulier] take a free shot.”

But again, Princeton rebounded. This time it was Keiko DeClerck, who tipped a Kelsey Koelzer shot.

Knotted with time expiring, it looked like the teams would skate into overtime for the second time this season. But Karlie Lund, the team’s leading scorer, scored with 2:42 minutes left.

By the end of the game, the Tigers had joined the Saints’ “wild west” mentality.

“I think we joined the party,” Kampersal said. “I mean 3 Ds, Steph jumped up for the first goal, Kelsey she scored the second one jumping up, the third goal from the point. We kind of jumped in. we were trading chances. Their goalie made big saves and Kimberly made big saves. Ideally I would like it more settled down but its’ just the way that it goes.”

Kimberly Newell stopped 33 shots, including 17 in the third. Grace Harrison responded with 23 saves, while each team finished 1-for-4 on the power play.

“Hopefully just enjoy it tonight and then [we need] to just play with passion because that’s what we had today,” Kampersal said.
[It] was just passion. And it depends on the refs, too. They let things go so it gets physical [and] that actually works maybe a little bit better for us because we got a little excited on the bench.”

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Princeton Co-Captain Seniors Leave Culture Of Inclusion

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After Princeton held its first official practice of the season on a rainy October day, co-captains Kyle Rankin and Mike Ambrosia sat on the countertops of the kitchen connecting the home and visiting locker rooms.

They had just left the ice after two hours of practice and were waiting to discuss the upcoming season. After a few minutes of interviews, the pair grabbed their new home white jerseys and tried them on. Standing side by side, they modeled the new uniforms for the first time.

Rankin and Ambrosia have been good friends since they first arrived at Princeton four years ago. Rankin’s from Canada, half of Ambrosia’s family is from Canada and the pair hailed from the USHL. Instantly, they shared tales of rinks visited and common experiences.

All of Princeton’s senior class – Rankin, Ambrosia, Kevin Liss and Michael Zajac – have been close since they were freshmen in 2012-13. So as this year’s co-captains, Ambrosia and Rankin prioritized expanding that inclusion through the team and the younger players.

“They brought everyone together,” junior goaltender Colton Phinney said. “This year they did a good job of welcoming in the freshmen and making them feel welcome right away and letting them know what we wanted. They’ve just done a great job of showing what Princeton hockey is and kind of bringing everyone together.”

For Ambrosia and Rankin, success comes not only from talent, but from that inclusiveness.

“You might have success with a very talented team, but if you have a talent and you have cohesion you’re going to definitely do better,” Ambrosia said. “That’s what we hope to lay, that foundation this year. We still have one more week left of the regular season and then into the playoffs, we’re going to hopefully do some damage there. But I think for the long run that type of culture’s very important.”

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The seniors have spent time with the freshmen since the beginning of the year, including an early-season trip to Sushi Palace – an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.

“We stick together pretty much the entire year, Ambrosia said. That’s the type of culture I think Princeton’s all about and Princeton hockey and Princeton athletics is all about. It’s a family culture and that’s something we’re all proud of here.”

One of the events the team has is the annual country concert at the beginning of the season.

“We’re a hard working class, we’re a very personable class. I think the biggest thing of our legacy will probably be the cohesion that we help bring to the team,” Rankin said.

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Kyle Rankin is the vocal captain.

“Kyle’s a tremendous kid, he’s a really hard worker on the ice, off the ice. He’s very vocal and I think in a great way, he really gets the guys going,” Ambrosia said. “He’s great one-on-one, but he’s also great in the locker room. I think we’ve worked really well together, we’ve been great friends ever since we set foot on campus and I admire his leadership.”

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Mike Ambrosia is the quieter captain.

“Mike’s leadership style is great. It’s something you really have to have on every team,” Rankin said. “He’s a very organized guy, he’s a hardworking guy. He does a lot of the stuff in silence behind the scenes that when you really reflect upon, it’s very impressive. He’s a very approachable guy, he always has great ideas and he’s been a very strong compliment to me this year.”

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When Ambrosia and Rankin step out at Baker on Saturday night, it will be for the last time as Princeton hockey players. It’s a career that’s seen more losses than wins and four difficult seasons.

“Obviously 20 losses is a lot of losses and it definitely is difficult to keep a positive attitude,” Ambrosia said. “But that’s definitely part of our job, part of the coaching staff’s job and every single kid on the team, it’s part of our job to come to the rink every day ready to work and try to improve, because we don’t want to have those results every single weekend.”

Despite the losses, the Tigers have stayed positive – an attitude easy to see in the bustling pre-game soccer games or the smiles on the ice in warmups.

“Certainly it’s difficult. You’re not going to lie and say every Friday and Saturday, if you are losing that much, that you can come put a smile on your face,” Ambrosia said. “But more so than not, and that’s something that our class and our team is proud of, is that we have come to work and we have been improving the entire season. Hopefully that’ll pay off in the final two games of the regular season and going into the playoffs.”

Ambrosia and Rankin are also on their third coaching staff. When they entered as freshmen, they were playing for a different coach than the one that recruited them. And they saw another coaching change in the middle of their careers to Ron Fogarty, Brad Dexter and Stavros Paskaris.

The seniors have played through 82 losses and just 23 wins, but see the improvement. The Tigers have five wins this season, the most they’ve had since 2013-14.

“Obviously our records haven’t been what [we] wanted, but one thing I’ve really noticed about the improvement of the team from last year to this year, I think it’s reflected in the one-goal games we’ve been in,” Rankin said “And just the way we’ve been playing with the puck. We’re attacking more and we’re getting more scoring chances and that’s obviously been a great improvement for us.

“It’s been a great transition, they’re a great coaching staff, they really believe in us,” Ambrosia said.

“It’s more so of a transition and it obviously takes time for players to get used to structures and systems and stuff like that but it comes with the territory, and that’s life.”

On Saturday, Ambrosia and Rankin will pull on their home whites for the last time. But for now, they’re focused on their last games in a Princeton jersey, trying to extend their last season as long as they can.

“We aren’t really too worried about what other people think of us, the outside hockey world, because obviously if you look at stands people predict certain ways. But that’s the great thing about sports. Anything can happen on any night,” Ambrosia said.

“In terms of the future I think there’s so many young gus on our team that are phenomenal players and they really have bright futures. All the seniors, we can’t wait to follow them. But we have a couple weeks left here that we want to really do a good job and give them a good foot going forward.”

When the seniors leave, they’re leaving their program in the hands of that freshman class, the ones they’ve welcomed since September. Rookies Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau are the team’s leading scorers, while Josh Teves in one of their top defensemen.

“Hopefully the proof of the best improvements are yet to come,” Rankin said. “Hopefully they’re in this playoff run here and if we can give a good push. That’s what I’ll be most proud of.”

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Mistakes Send Princeton To Loss Against Yale

kuffPRINCETON, N.J. – For the first few minutes of the first period, Princeton dominated. But JM Piotrowski scored 4:53 minutes into the first period to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Less than three minutes later, a bad line change gave Yale numbers the other way, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

After that, it fell apart for Princeton.

“When we got down 2-0 and now everyone tries to do something more and gets outside of their abilities,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “Some players are trying to create something that they can’t do and then that creates more turnovers going the other way. And Yale’s a very fast, quick team and hence only losing one time since e played them.”

Yale scored twice more in the first and finished with a 6-0 win Friday night at Baker Rink.

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“There’s turning points throughout the game that just dug ourselves into a hole,” Fogarty said. “That was a bad matchup tonight [with] their speed and their skill against our doubling up and not thinking the game quick enough.”

The win also gave Yale the 2-1 series victory against Princeton. The Bulldogs have only lost one game since the Tigers defeated them back in December.

“I was waiting for the Christmas card from Keith Allain to say thank you for turning it around for them,” Fogarty said. “We played very smart the game we played and very patient and didn’t complicate matters [in that win], and we complicated matters [tonight] .

Stu Wilson scored twice, including a goal on a five-minute major. Rob O’Gara Henry Hart and Carson Cooper also scored for the Bulldogs, who outshot Princeton 50-20. Colton Phinney made 45 saves in the loss, while Lyon stopped all 20.

“That was a totally different team that we saw on the ice,” Fogarty. “Our team was totally different than it was last week and that’s the frustrating point of it is just there’s a fine margin for error with this team. And once we create a couple errors, it goes south pretty quick.”

The Bulldogs scored all four goals in less than a 10-minute span in the first period. Wilson struck on the five-minute major 7:39 into the second and added his second tally 15:26 minutes into the third.

Once the Tigers went down 2-0, they also struggled to find an offensive rhythm and get through the neutral zone.

“It has to be players getting mad at other teams and forcing guys to be better,” Fogarty said. “As a coaching staff you can’t do it 60 times over the course of two years, it has to come within. So we let the guys be here after the game and hopefully they can rebound amongst themselves.”

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Princeton Falls To St. Lawrence

lundPRINCETON, N.J. – The third meeting between Princeton and St. Lawrence finished with a score just as the first two. But this Friday afternoon, as puck dropped on the ECAC playoffs, the Tigers and Saints battled to a scoreless tie for almost 50 minutes of hockey.

But at the 10:12 mark of the third period, Kennedy Marchment scored to give St. Lawrence a 1-0 lead. That was all the Saints needed to win 1-0 at Baker Rink and take a 1-0 lead in the ECAC playoff series.

“Their goal is like a crappy goal, they played hard, St. Lawrence played really well but their goal was like a bouncy, crappy goal,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said.

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The Saints out shot the Tigers 46-29.

“We just need to do a better job of funneling pucks to the net, but I am proud of the kids,” Kampersal said. “They’ve gone through a lot all season, but in particular it’s been an emotional week for them and they came in and played a heart and soul game. We just need to execute better tomorrow.”

Kimberly Newell finished with 45 saves in the night, keeping Princeton in the game. The Tigers, though, had some chances of their own but were unable to capitalize.

“Kimberly saved us. I don’t know that the score could’ve been because I knew we hit a couple posts, but they could’ve scored way more goals than they did,” Kampersal said.

“She was monstrous in net, she was great and she’s going to be like that tomorrow again. When she’s like that, she gives us a chance, even when we don’t play our best, to win. Hopefully she does that again tomorrow.”

Princeton and SLU both had potential goals reviewed and called no goals. The Tigers also came close to taking the lead on a Karlie Lund chance in the second.

“Their kids played hard, our execution could’ve been better,” Kampersal said. “The chances that we had we either shot it over the net or didn’t make, we turned quality chances into un-quality chances.”

While the Tigers weren’t able to create many quality scoring chances, they played better defenvisely.

“Yeah they moved the puck better. Our D zone still needs to get better,” Kampersal said. “Actually our backcheck was a lot better, there wasn’t so many oddman rushes, there was one in the second period that [Alex Moore] had but other than that like the last time we played them they probably had like four or five of those types of situatons but this time they only had one.

“I think [for] St. Lawrence that was probably the best defensive performance that they’ve had, because they’re more run and gun but they did a good job on Kelsey [Koelzer]. They almost had two kids on her and they beat up Karlie Lund pretty good so they did what they had to do they stopped our two guns.”

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Colton Phinney Returns From Injury To Break Program’s Single-Season Save Record

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On Feb. 20 at RPI, Colton Phinney was watching the scoreboard and tracking his saves. He knew he needed 18 stops to break the program record for saves in a single season. It took a period and a half, but he finally stopped puck No. 871 to move in first place.

“Obviously it’s pretty cool to be on the good side of the record,” Phinney said. “It’s a really long history of the program and a lot of years and a lot of players, but I think I’d rather have it be a different record than saves. I’d rather it be wins or shutouts or save percentage, because you can have a lot of saves and not be winning.

“I’d rather have it be those, but obviously it’s still pretty cool.”

But just one week before, Phinney missed Princeton’s contest at St. Lawrence. Instead of sitting on the bench, he was sitting in the stands as a scratch.

The starter had been dealing with a nagging injury sustained at Harvard on Jan. 29. He continued playing for the next few weeks, making 115 saves over the next four games.

“I didn’t practice much but I’ve been practicing,” Phinney said. “Maybe the week after I got hurt, I practiced maybe one time And then slowly I practiced more and then now I’ve been fully practicing again.”

But after five games of Phinney playing in pain, including a contest at Clarkson, Princeton decided it was time to shut him down.

Phinney knew there was a possibility that he wouldn’t play sometime during the trip to North Country, but it wasn’t until Saturday morning he knew for certain. The game that Phinney missed, a loss to St. Lawrence, marked the first time in his collegiate career that Phinney wasn’t dressed.

“It was tough and I wasn’t thrilled, but I think I agreed with it and thought it was probably best for me and for the rest of the season,” Phinney said. “But I wasn’t thrilled. I wanted to play. And obviously watching the game was pretty tough and being in the stands was obviously a little different for me. But, I agreed with it. I didn’t love it but it was something that had to be done.”

After missing the game and taking a few days off from skating, Phinney started practicing again on Feb. 16. By then, he had a feeling he would be back in the lineup that weekend.

“I guess the idea was when we talked Saturday that I was going to playing, that’s why I was going to take that game off, because it would be best for me to try and get a full recovery,” Phinney said.

“And I was actually able to do goalie skates. I couldn’t do everything last week, so I realized I was going to be able to play. But that was the first time in three time in three weeks that I was actually allowed to do a lot of things.”

In his return, Phinney made 34 stops in a 2-1 loss to Union.

“He was excellent,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said after the loss. “He looked more flexible and I think the day of rest, we should probably [have done] it sooner. He was a little banged up. But he looked great tonight. He had a solid game.”

After playing both games last weekend and making 63 saves combined, Phinney said he’s feeling better.

“I didn’t feel good before the game. so I think it had some effect,” Phinney said. “I think was more mental of just realizing how terrible it is to have to watch, but I think it definitely helped because I felt better all week and I feel better now. I think that day [off] was huge. It gave me an extra day and then I also had Sunday and Monday off too.”

Now healed, Phinney has 892 saves. He has 2,284 career saves – just 668 shy from the program’s all-time saves record.