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Men routed at home by ranked opponents; women pull off upset over No. 3 Cornell

20131116_MHockeyV.Harvard_BenKoger_1055Senior Calof scores 119th career point, good for program’s sixth most all-time, in senior night loss Ten seniors on the men’s hockey team played their final games at Baker Rink. The Tigers (5-22 overall, 4-16 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) have not been lucky at home all season. On Friday and Saturday nights, the squad suffered two losses with scores of 6-1 and 4-1 to No. 19 Colgate (16-11-5, 12-5-3 ECAC) and No. 16 Cornell (14-7-5, 10-6-4 ECAC). The team has mounted 10 home defeats over the dark months of winter, which have been particularly dark for Princeton men’s hockey. To paraphrase, the Tigers left Baker Rink not with a roar but a whimper. Against the visiting Colgate Raiders, Princeton let up 18 shots in the first period while managing only nine themselves. Thanks in part to the play of freshman goaltender Colton Phinney, the home side only had allowed one Colgate goal through 20 minutes. This start was Phinney’s 13th of the season, and the number was not particularly lucky. Nine minutes of second period play proved the Raiders to be the better-organized team offensively. However, at the 9:17 mark, the Tigers equalized with what would be their only goal of the contest. Senior defenseman Alec Rush skated with menace around behind the cage and found his classmate, captain and center Jack Berger sitting on top of the crease. Berger neatly slapped the puck past Colgate’s goaltender Charlie Finn. The 1-1 stalemate did not last long. Raiders’ center Tylor Spink spotted his twin brother winger Tyson Spink moving toward the goal. The latter Spink beat Phinney via the five hole to give his team the lead they would sustain from the 10:48 mark in the middle period until the final buzzer. Though the rest of the contest would lack in successful Princeton offense, it did not lack in action. Princeton and Colgate players frequently exchanged words and shoves. Members of the officiating crew regularly needed to step in and separate players. In part, at least, the frustration of the Tigers was manifest in loose and scrappy play. The home side served nine penalties for a total of 29 minutes, including a charging/game misconduct major penalty on freshman winger Ryan Siiro, whose hit left Colgate’s Andrew Black supine on the ice by the boards. Five separate penalties meant that the Tigers spent a good portion of the final period down a skater. With this disadvantage, they were unable to build the momentum needed for a comeback of any magnitude. Two more Colgate goals came within five minutes of final period play. On the third goal of the frame and the fifth overall for his team, defenseman Ryan Johnston made mincemeat of the Princeton defense with his skating and puck control and beat Phinney with a close-range shot. With 12:30 left in the game, Phinney was pulled for junior Ryan Benitez, who played his first minutes of his Princeton career. He would allow one more goal at the 14:06 mark. The following night, the Tigers looked to follow in the skate marks of their female counterparts, who had just pulled off an upset away in Ithaca, N.Y. Baker Rink saw a capacity crowd. The stands were populated by seas of orange and red, with both university bands providing musical accompaniment for at times rowdy cheering. The men of Princeton hockey hung around for most of the contest, but in the end were not able to match their opponents’ level of play. Early play saw a number of quality scoring opportunities for both teams. The visiting side broke through first. A holding penalty on sophomore winger Mike Ambrosia set up a Cornell power play. At the 8:33 mark, the Big Red’s Brian Ferlin took an assist from teammate Joel Lowry and beat senior goalie Sean Bonar for his team’s first score. Bonar was given the start in his last night at Baker, his 14th of the season. Ferlin’s goal gave his team the 1-0 lead and would prove to be the only goal for over 28 minutes. At the 2:40 and 6:29 marks in the second period, the Tigers very nearly managed to equalize, but shots by sophomore winger Jonathan Liau and defenseman Rush connected with the Cornell goalposts before flying wide. The middle frame looked to supply no goals for either side while yielding plenty of unsettled, back and forth action. However, with a man-up advantage, Cornell’s Jacob MacDonald from Patrick McCarron ripped a shot past Bonar. The 2-0 lead gave the visitors some breathing room to wind down the second period as they faced an all senior offensive line from Princeton which featured centers Berger and Andrew Calof along with winger Andrew Ammon. Necessity forced the home team to pull Bonar from the net intermittently with just under four minutes to play. For Princeton’s first and only goal, Rush fired a slap shot through a sea of players from the point. Coming with an extra attacker on the ice, the senior’s sixth goal on the season provided some much-needed life for the Tigers. A determined and desperate Princeton side could not muster enough offensive possession in Cornell’s zone to gain any serious scoring chances. One crucial Princeton turnover near their own blue line allowed Cornell’s McCarron to knock the puck slowly but surely in the direction of an empty goal. In an image iconic of the season, a diving Tiger could not save the shot from connecting with the back pipe. The clock ticked down to all zeroes with the scoreboard reading 4-1 in favor of the guest team. Calof earned the second assist on the Rush goal. This made for his 119th career point, which places him sixth in the Princeton career point total ranking. He sits just two tallies away from a tie for fifth. In the ceremony after the game, the senior center was honored as being one of the most exciting offensive players in program history. With two goals and two assists on the weekend, junior winger Brianna Leahy contributed in every scoring play The women’s side (14-11-4 overall, 10-9-3 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) dropped the first of their weekend away series by a slim 1-0 margin. After the loss to Colgate (10-22-2, 7-15-0 ECAC), the Tigers managed to finish their season in style, pulling off a gritty upset over No. 3 Cornell (20-5-4, 15-4-3 ECAC) at Cornell’s Lynah Rink. Friday night, the teams managed only 41 shots in total, 21 of which were attempted by the home team. Five penalties were served for a total of 10 minutes. Two scoreless periods could not separate the teams. At the 2:54 mark of the final period, the Raiders’ Hannah Rastrick scored her first goal of the season to give her team the only lead they would need to win. The win, though impressive, could not put Colgate back in the playoff hunt. Their ninth place finish on the season has them on the outside looking in at the ECAC’s eight team playoff. Princeton’s matchup the following night altered the playoff picture on in that it guaranteed the two Ivy sides will be seeing a lot more of each other. The Big Red occupies the third spot in the end-of-season table, while the Tigers sit in sixth place. As a result, next weekend the women of Princeton hockey will travel again to upstate New York for a best-of-three series against a team they have shown they can play competitively with. In addition, this away win for Princeton avenged a 5-4 home defeat at the hands of the Big Red earlier this year. Two first period goals came within just over a minute of each other. The Big Red’s Alyssa Gagliardi assisted center Jillian Saulnier on the crease, who beat sophomore goaltender Kimberly Newell to open scoring. At the 6:03 mark and on a power play, freshman winger Kelsey Koelzer equalized off assists from senior center Denna Liang and junior winger Brianna Leahy. On the whole, Newell had a stellar outing with a total of 32 saves on Cornell’s 35 shots. Princeton would take the lead, which it would not give up, on another power play opportunity again assisted by Leahy. With just over eight minutes left in the period, junior defender Ali Pankowski beat Cornell goaltender Lauren Slebodnick high from outside. The third goal for the visitors came off the stick of Leahy, who capitalized unassisted on a Cornell turnover and put the puck between the leg pads of Slebodnick. The Big Red made a goalie switch soon after and replaced their starter with Paula Voorheis. One more Leahy goal off assists from Liang and senior winger Sally Butler would seal the fate of the contest at the 17:01 mark. An extra-attacker goal by Cornell with just under a minute to play tightened the Princeton lead. The visitors held on, however, and showed why they should be counted on to bring a high level of competition to any playoff series.

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