On Friday night, the game was Princeton’s to lose. The Tigers had jumped out with one of their best games of the season and held a 2-0 lead over Clarkson, ready to take a 1-0 advantage in the playoff series.
But with 8:44 minutes left in the third, a series of penalties and special team losses forced the Tigers back.
First, Spencer Kryczka took a five-minute major for boarding, allowing the Golden Knights to cut the deficit to 2-1 on the major penalty. The Tigers followed with a too many men on the ice penalty with 1:46 minutes left.
Clarkson pulled its goaltender for the power play, and Sam Vigneault tied it on the 6-on-4 with 22 seconds left.
After one scoreless overtime, the Golden Knights took possession to start the second. They had a couple chances early, including a shot that rang off the post. But a few seconds later, James De Haas scored to give Clarkson the 3-2 overtime win.
“Awesome,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said of the Princeton’s play. “Great effort, great execution. [We] just lost the special teams.”
The Tigers played well in the loss. Princeton controlled play in the first period and jumped ahead 5:35 into the game on an Alex Riche goal. In the second, Ryan Siiro made it 2-0.
“The Siiro goal was big to get us up 2-0,” Fogarty said. “They saw a lot of minutes and did a good job on the penalty kill for the most part on the five minute [major].”
Clarkson played better in the second and ultimately outshot the Tigers 46-31, including 13 shots in the third and 12 in the first overtime. The Golden Knights – especially late in the game – forced Colton Phinney to make some difficult saves.
“I think everybody fared great. It was a great hockey game,” Fogarty said. “Like I said, we just lost special teams. And we played well for a road game, really well for a road game.”
Despite giving up two goals on the penalty kill late in the third, the Tigers continued playing well into overtime. The teams exchanged chances in the first overtime period.
“We had chances in the overtime, but until the final buzzer goes for the game, our guys competed extremely well,” Fogarty said.
Phinney finished with 43 saves on the night and passed the 1,000 mark for saves this season. On the other end, Greg Lewis made 29 saves for Clarkson.
Quin Pompi netted two assists for the Tigers, who took the ice without forwards David Hallisey, Max Becker or defenseman Matt Nelson. Stuart Pomeroy filled in on offense while Marlon Sabo took Nelson’s spot on defense. Fogarty said Nelson is day-to-day.
With the loss, Princeton faces a must-win Game 2 on Saturday night.
“It’s not over. You [have] to win two games,” Fogarty said. “Refocus. Our guys have been down before and it’s been a tough season, but they’ve always responded with great effort and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”