PRINCETON, N.J. – When the puck dropped on Friday night, Princeton jumped on the puck. In just one minute, Alex Riche had scored his first collegiate goal to give Princeton a 1-0 lead over Colgate. By the end of the period, the Tigers were ahead 3-1.
But it didn’t last.
“[It’s like] one of those songs, ‘I’m Henry The VIII I Am.’ Second verse same as the first. We wished [the] third verse was [the] same as the first,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said.
After struggling in the second and third and allowing two goals in the last frame, Princeton fell to Colgate 5-4 at Baker Rink.
“That was an exhausting loss,” Fogarty said. “[We] just played so well, it was a great effort and we just compounded our mistakes in the third. Their skilled players made a great play and then we all tried to recover instead of just continuing to do our job.”
Kevin Lough’s go-ahead goal in the third, where he picked up a rebound and shot it past Colton Phinney, capped off three unanswered goals from the Raiders.
“You’re ging to have a breakdown, just don’t let the second and third happen,” Fogarty said. “[We need to] just recover. Our recovery wasn’t good.”
After Riche gave Princeton a 1-0 lead, Colgate’s Evan Peterson tied the game 5:55 minutes later. But Eric Robinson gave Princeton the lead 11:07 minutes into the period, and Garrett Skrbich then directed the puck in from the slot to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
“I just dropped it to Max [Veronneau] and kind of got knocked over and Max shot it and [it] tipped off my stick and somehow found the way into the net,” Riche said.
Scoring slowed down early in the second, but at the 12:26 mark the Spink twins broke the puck out shorthanded. Tyson Spink sent the puck to Tylor Spink, who cut the deficit to 3-2. Just over a minute later, Veronneau converted on a tic-tac-toe play on a 5-on-3 man advantage to return Princeton’s lead to two. Defenseman Joe Grabowski sent the puck to Mike Ambrosia who tossed it to Veronneau for the goal.
“We had some good puck movement and [were] just trying to get pucks to the net,” Ambrosia said. “Because the last few games we struggled to even get shots on the power play. We don’t have to be too cute.
“We just need to find those openings, get guys in front because these goaltenders are great in this league when they see the puck. But if you get guys in front, traffic in front, move them side to side, we have a better chance of scoring. We’re just focusing on making plays, executing our passes and getting pucks on net and hopefully the power play will start turning around because especially in the playoffs special teams seem to decide games.”
After scoring the power play tally, the Tigers found themselves on the penalty kill less than four minutes later. The Raiders, who had been 0-for-3 on the man-advantage earlier in the game, made this one count. After the third-goal second, the Tigers held a 4-3 lead.
But Colgate and the Spink twins struck early in the third, with Tyson Spink tying the game 1:12 minutes into the third. Lough scored 4:07 minutes later. Princeton couldn’t respond and had trouble getting to the net in the third despite generating quality chances in the first two periods. Colgate’s Charlie Finn made 28 saves in the game.
“Finn’s had our number for the last, I guess it’s three years he’s had our number,” Fogarty said. “And we came out, executed, got pucks on the net, got traffic. I thought we did a great job and I think we did a good job of that. When you score four goals you got to have a better result too.”
The Raiders out shot the Tigers 45-32. Colton Phinney made 40 saves on the night, while Ambrosia and Grabowski netted two assists. The loss demoted Princeton to sole possession of 11th in the ECAC, two points behind Colgate and one point ahead of Brown.
“This last month we proved to ourselves that when we do play well 5-on-5, when we do stay out of the box and don’t give other teams odd man chances, that we can play with anyone in the nation,” Ambrosia said. “We played with Quinnipiac a couple periods and so just internally like that we know that if we do play our game for a full 60 minutes that we’ll definitely have a chance to win.
“But we have to do that and that’s what we’ve struggled with and so we’re going to continue to work hard and look forward to tomorrow.”