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Men's hockey loses pair of home games; women unbeaten on road trip

Men’s hockey falls to St. Lawrence, plays close in loss to No. 14 Clarkson

Playing in one of his final games at Baker Rink, senior winger Andrew Ammon notched a pair of goals in an impressive performance against No. 14 Clarkson. His and his team’s effort was not quite enough to upset a strong Golden Knights team. This past weekend, Princeton men’s hockey (4-19 overall, 3-13 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) fell at home to St. Lawrence (11-14-3, 5-8-3) and Clarkson (17-11-2, 10-6) by scores of 7-1 and 4-3.

A slow start for the Tigers allowed the visiting Saints to notch the game-winning goal at the 8:55 mark in the second period. St. Lawrence dominated the host team on the scoreboard and tallied 50 shots to the Tigers’ 25. Freshman defender Ryan Siiro scored his third goal of the year on assists by Ammon and senior center Andrew Calof on a power play at the 9:56 mark. Five more Saints’ goals put the game far out of reach.

The following night saw a different Princeton team take the ice. A Clarkson power play gave the Golden Knights an early lead. The visitors moved the puck in the Princeton defensive zone with speed and skill. One first period hit, however, from freshman defender Marlon Sabo put Clarkson’s captain and leading scorer Ben Sexton out of commission.

“You keep playing. Obviously you never want a guy to get hurt,” sophomore forward Mike Ambrosia said. “He’s a good player, but no matter what happens — the other team loses a guy, you lose a guy — you have to battle through that.”

The Tigers suffered a rough start to the second period. Jarret Burton and AJ Fossen put the Knights up by two goals just seven seconds after play was resumed. Additionally, Princeton’s Siiro committed a tripping penalty on the play.

Ammon, on an assist from Calof, helped the Tigers draw closer at the 7:21 mark in the middle frame. The quick strike came against a sprawled-out Clarkson goalie. Coming at the 13:54 mark, this Ammon-Calof pairing scored again to equalize on a power play.

Less than two minutes later, Clarkson’s James Howden gave his team a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Just before the final intercession, Princeton began to celebrate a goal by Siiro, but the equalizer was disallowed after review due to goalie interference. At the 5:10 mark of the final period, an unassisted Allan McPherson scored for Clarkson what would be the game-winner.

Nine minutes into the final 20, a crushing hit on Clarkson defender Kevin Tansey by Siiro put the Princeton defender in the box for a five-minute major boarding penalty. But by this point the Tigers appeared to have figured out the menacing Golden Knights’ power play.

Shorthanded off the Siiro penalty, fellow freshman defender Hayden Anderson scored his first career goal off a shot from the point which rocketed over the right shoulder of Clarkson’s Steve Perry.

The Golden Knights took to Baker Rink heralded by a well-travelled Clarkson fan section. But as the final seconds ticked off, the confident cheers had turned to nailbiting. With just under two minutes to play, senior goaltender Sean Bonar sprinted off the ice to give the Tigers an extra skater. Even so, a crazy last few minutes did not produce an eighth goal.

“We had a lot of guys injured, but the team really responded well,” Ambrosia said. “We didn’t come out with the two points, but most importantly in these last games before the playoffs, we wanted to find some positives. And I think we did that. We had a couple great goals by Andrew Ammon, senior leader, and we played better defensively.”

All 12 men’s ECAC teams participate in a single-elimination playoff tournament. So in spite of the deep hole the Tigers find themselves in, Ambrosia suggests that they will continue to fight and improve on their form moving late into the season.

“Every team makes the playoffs,” he began, “and there’s a lot of parity in our league. We’ve played tight games with some of the best teams in the nation, and we beat one of the best teams in the nation [in Quinnipiac].”

The Tigers will travel to New England next weekend to face Brown and Yale. Princeton hosted these Ivy rivals in early November, but they left Baker Rink victorious as part of a six-game Tigers’ losing streak.

Women emerge from the weekend unbeaten, tie with No. 8 Clarkson

In late November, Princeton women’s hockey hosted No. 8 Clarkson (21-4-5 overall, 12-2-4 ECAC) and St. Lawrence (10-16-3, 9-6-3). The 0-7 loss to Clarkson broke a five-game unbeaten streak. The visiting Saints similarly managed to dispatch the Tigers by a 1-4 margin. This past weekend, Princeton (12-9-4, 8-7-3) avenged the pair of losses with road wins over the upstate New York opponents.

In a matchup at St. Lawrence, the Tigers edged out the Saints with the last minute heroics of senior defender Rose Alleva, who scored with only 48 seconds remaining in play off an assist from junior forward Brianna Leahy. The play evolved out of somewhat unusual circumstances, as skaters on both sides were in transition on and off the bench at the end of a two-minute Princeton power play.

“We love beating that team,” senior forward Denna Laing said regarding her team’s late effort. “So that was a big one for us. I was most proud that we stuck with it.”

Alleva described the moment, rife with intense emotion, as one of those rare instances where instinct seems to take over and typical faculties of memory and feeling seem to fade away.

“We were all really excited,” she began. “Leahy got the rebound out towards the point where she was on the defensive zone. And she starts getting it up the ice in a one-on-one with her defender. I looked around and thought I better skate up with her. I thought I was going so slow. And all I could think about was that I was going to shoot the puck as hard as I can.”

Even more late-game resolve was required in the Tigers’ matchup at Clarkson. The Golden Knights sport the conference’s most prolific offense and the country’s points leader in senior Jamie Lee Rattray. Rattray earned two more points by assisting her team’s two goals in the second period.

Unassisted at the 14:02 mark, freshman forward Fiona McKenna notched her team’s second goal. Her score came off a Golden Knights’ turnover and came as a stick-side shot which beat Clarkson’s senior goalie Erica Howe. Howe’s save percentage of .941 coming into the weekend was good for third in Division I. The equalizer would send the game into a five-minute overtime period which included two minor penalties, but yielded no goals.

Alleva identified their opponent’s power play as a challenge her team had to rise to face. Princeton skaters served a total of nine penalties for 18 minutes, but the Tigers’ penalty kill did not allow any Golden Knights’ goals.

“Their power play — I don’t know what the stats are — is really good,” she explained. “They moved it around really well and had us defend multiple different things.

Alleva identified captain Laing as a teammate whose play has been particularly outstanding. “She’s been playing a lot lately in key situations. She had a hat trick the other week [at Rensselaer] that really got our energy up. She also scored the goal against St. Lawrence at a really key point in the game.”

“We know that every game is precious and that we need to bring it every game,” Alleva said of the mounting importance of each point down the stretch. “Some girls have been talking [about playoff scenarios] and we’re looking at places four and five or five and six. If we get that fourth spot we’ll have a home game, which is really exciting. We haven’t had that since my freshman year.”

“Obviously we’re trying to be the best that we can,” Laing began. “But we’re playing each game as if it’s a playoff game. Each game is very important, as we know every point counts.”

The women’s side will look to extend this three game unbeaten streak into this upcoming weekend’s home matchups against Brown and Yale. In the Connecticut-Rhode Island road trip earlier this year, the Tigers managed to handle both Ivy opponents.

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