PRINCETON, NJ-The Princeton Tigers Men’s Hockey team held the #17 Cornell Big Red to one solitary goal Saturday night at Hobey Baker Rink, though Cornell still won the day by shutting out PU in a close contest. Cornell goaltender Mitch Gillam put up 32 saves for the shutout and the win as he fended off numerous Princeton opportunities in a back and forth game. Princeton’s Colton Phinney made 29 saves on 30 of the Big Red’s shot and did not let any of Cornell’s screening attempts stop him from making the play. He also denied a Big Red attempt at a wrap around quite nicely as he was very effective overall against an often speedy creative attack.
The first period was scoreless as Princeton outshot Cornell 16 to 10, though the visitor’s had a few moments where they got off multiple shots in succession though Phinney was ready for it. Princeton at times in the game had trouble stopping offensive efforts and getting clear of the zone allowing multiple attempts. However, the Tigers also moved the puck in transition and set up their own attacks.
The lone goal of the game in the second when John Knisley swept in quickly from Phinney’s right and while moving unleashed a shot from mid range that rocketed past the keeper. He was assisted by Alex McCrea. That period had been a split of 7 shots apiece.
In the third, Cornell kept up the pressure with 13 shots and Princeton put up 9 in the attempt to tie it. McCrea for his part blunted a Princeton chance by diving in front of a well lined up shot to block it late in the game. The Tigers didn’t pull Phinney very quickly in the last moments of the period, and when it was contemplated the red and white managed to get down towards the net delaying the move further.
Shotwise Max Veronneau had four of PU’s opportunities. Josh Teves, David Hallisey, Mike Ambrosia, Garret Skrbich, Eric Robinson, Ryan Kuffner, and Ben Foster all managed 3 on the day, with Tommy Davis and Ryan Siiro adding two.
Cornell’s Jake Weidner and Dwyer Tschantz had four shots, Anthony Angello took 3, and Knisley, Brendan Smith, Christin Hilbrich, Eric Freschi, and Patrick McCarron put up 2.
There were only three penalties called in the game, though Princeton had two power play opportunities from them. Nonetheless Cornell was pretty effective at keeping the Tigers from setting too much up.
“We keep tweaking with our power play…try to give them some ability,” Princeton Head Coach Ron Fogarty said. “I thought the one unit had a lot of great looks because of the flow up top (Editor’s note: Robinson, Riche, Siiro I believe). Where the Kuffner, Veronneau, Ambrosia one is more systematic. They gotta play it more five on five instead of going to setup spots. But you have to win special teams to win a game. Colgate won special teams last night, nobody won the special teams tonight so it’s going to be closer. So that’s a key we have to keep improving on that.
The Tigers similarly did not let their opponent’s lone chance pay off either including when Quin Pompi blocked a shot and immediately cleared the puck that dropped in front of him.
“Our penalty kill has done a lot better,” Fogarty noted. “We modified our penalty kill. More of a straight line attack over a push. And that has created more shot blocking.”
Princeton is now 5-16-2 and 3-11-2 in the ECAC. Cornell rises to 12-7-4 and 7-6-3 in the conference.
The Tigers head to the road next week to visit Clarkson and St. Lawrence. In their last meeting in November PU defeated Clarkson 3-0, but fell to SLU 5-1. Cornell welcomes in Brown and Yale to Ithaca next weekend.
Cornell is just one point out of a tie for fourth place in the conference and the possible playoff implications that come with it. Princeton needs to get up to eighth to earn home ice in the first round of the ECAC Tournament, but sits at eleventh currently.
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