By David F. Pendrys
PRINCETON, NJ- In a turnaround from a year ago, the Princeton Tigers gave the Harvard Crimson quite a game Friday night at Hobey Baker Rink. Despite the 5-2 result for Harvard it was a close game throughout until the Crimson were able to pull away enough to hold on.
Ryan Donato of Harvard scored the first goal of the game assisted by Alexander Kerfoot and Lewis Zerter-Gossage at 11:58 by getting the puck past Princeton’s Colton Phinney.
The Tigers struck back at 1:56 as Jeremy Germain was fed it well in front by David Hallisey and he beat Harvard’s Merrick Madsen to things up. Josh Teves also picked up an assist on the play. Princeton made it especially interesting at 5:38 when Eric Robinson launched a hard shot back in the zone and into the net it went. Germain had the assist on the game leading shot. Harvard eventually responded as Tyler Moy got the puck and let it fly from Phinney’s right successfully at 17:39. Assists went to Devin Tringale and Sean Malone.
In the third period Princeton thought they had scored but it was quickly waved off. The referees reviewed it but only confirmed their call. After that let down, Harvard’s Tringale notched a point after skating in from Phinney’s left and winning the confrontation at 3:36. The teams played with the 3-2 score until late in the third. Harvard’s Viktor Dombrovskiy scored on a well set up play assisted by Seb Lloyd to put the game in dire territory for the Tigers. This would eventually lead to Phinney being pulled very later, but Zerter-Gossage collected it and found the empty net at 19:10 to make the score look rougher than it was.
When asked by this reporter if there was a difference between period 2 and 3’s play Fogarty responded “no, they threw puck in net, it goes off our defensemen’s stick and in. That’s the game winning goal and it sucks from our standpoint, but I know we had a couple shots that could of went in and we just didn’t get the lucky bounce, but we’re creating those opportunities which we haven’t done in the past. We’re most definitely right there and there’s a lot of pressure on the freshman and sophomores.”
This lead to a followup from me regarding how the sophomores who had been so critical last year are performing this year. “They gotta play harder, and heavier on the puck,” Fogarty said. “They surprised people last year. Now you’re going to have the attention of everyone. So as much success they had last year, you have to work that much harder to equal that or surpass it. It’s going to open up some room for the freshman again.”
Harvard rises to 4-0-1 on the season, and 2-0-1 in conference. Princeton drops to 0-4 and 0-3 in conference but found a much better result than their previous games. Princeton also saw a dramatic improvement from their meeting at Baker a year before where Harvard unleashed a virtual shooting gallery on Phinney early on and seemed far more in control of the game. This time, the game was back and forth from the get go with each side driving often. Princeton did not spend stuck in their end like they had in 2015.
“We got a little deeper, moving the puck quicker It takes time for people to adapt to systems and you know we’re playing well. They’re playing a lot better than we have in the past,” Princeton Head Coach Ron Fogarty said in response to a question from CHN, Victory Press, and freelance Journalist Jashvina Shah. In response to a follow up he went on to say it the team was “Different from the Michigan State game for sure then from after that one most of the Freshman have settled down. We’ve been playing game. We’re outshooting teams and outchancing. It’s not going in now, but you have to stay the course and it’ll come. If you start deviating, then it’s going to look like the Michigan State game.”
Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian asked Fogarty for more specifics and received some about what the team’s adjustments and play.
“Just taking care of the puck at the blue line,” Fogarty explained. “We had some tired turnovers end of the shift, then we turnover, come back get a hitter, then you’d know they’d sustain a little bit. It’s good. It’s how you want the guys to play. Couple of chances, here or there, and we battled back to tie it up going into the third. That’s what we wanted. We challenged to win the second. We accomplished that. We just gotta make sure, the little things. That’s the difference from teams that wins and teams that’s learning to win. This team’s gotten a lot better. We just gotta get over that edge. We’re close, that’s why it’s frustrating. So close that you can see it happening.”
When Ashmore asked to compare it to past years Fogarty quickly explained that “it’s a different close. It was more hoping last year. Like you hope they can get it. I think we’re carrying the play. We’re coming out of our zone with possession, we’re entering with attack waves. There’s sustainability in the offensive zone. It’s more that you know from experience, that the things that you’re doing can yield wins. From a player’s psyche you want to have that win sooner than later so they got that tangible result.”
Harvard put 33 shots on net and 32 on Phinney who made 28 saves. Princeton shot it 29 times and Madsen picked up 27 saves.
“We didn’t hang with them, we competed with him,” Fogarty said in response to Ashmore. “I think they hanged with us for the first two period. It sucks, it absolutely sucks to lose games where you know you’re close, but you have to stay the course or you blow it up. We can’t. We can’t blow things up. We don’t have a minor league team full of prospects. You gotta stay the course and keep the guys seeing the good things. What we’re doing well, how it’s opportunities, and what we’re doing on the defensive side of the puck. It’s more frustrating because we’re playing well. There’s no question we’re playing well.”
Ashmore also asked Phinney about what the team could to improve.
“I don’t know I guess if maybe I keep maybe pucks out of the net then we’ll probably win,” the goaltender remarked. “Been scoring enough goals. I think a lot of it falls on me and I just need to be better. So it gets better as the season goes on.” Later in response to a different question he added “It seems like every single game it’s two periods. You put three together to win a game,” and noted the team would keep building off it.
This reporter asked what the team might do with the quick turn around. Phinney cautioned he generally focused on his own sphere but added “I think we’re just going to keep going with what we’ve been doing. I mean it’s a 2-2 game could of gone either way. I think we’ll just touch up on a few things but won’t make any major changes.”
Donato took six shots to lead Harvard, Moy had 5, Zerter-Gosssage 4, Dombrovskiy 3, and Clay Anderson, Luke Esposito, and Nathan Krusko had 2. For Princeton, Max Veronneau had 5 shots to lead the team. Matt Nelson, David Hallisey, Ryan Kuffner, and Ryan Siiro had 3. Max Becker, Eric Robinson, and Jeremy Germain had 2 apiece.
Anderson and Jacob Olson each had 5 blocks for Harvard. Dombrovskiy had 2, Eddie Ellis, Donato, and Adam Fox had 1 each. For Princeton, Teves blocked 5 shots, Derek Topatigh and Siiro had 2. Nelson, Jackson Cressey, Alex Riche, Quin Pompi, and Joe Grabowski each had 1.
Full gallery with larger versions at the facebook page.
Princeton would then go on to tie Dartmouth the next day 2-2. Eric Robinson scored both Princeton goals. Cam Strong and John Ernsting had Dartmouth’s tallies. Topatigh, Riche, Hallisey, and Germain had assists for the Tigers. Connor Yau and Grant Opperman had assists on the Ernsting goal. This game had far more penalties than the one before which.
Dartmouth took 35 shots and Princeton 24. Phinney naturally made 33 saves and Dartmouth’s Devin Buffalo made 22.
Daniel Warpecha led the Big Green with 5 shots. Opperman had 4 shots, Alex Jasiek, Josh Hartley, Cam Strong, Kevan Kilistoff, and Corey Kalk had 3. Connor Yau, Tony Crema, Charley Michalowski, and Will Graber all had 2.
Robinson put 7 shots on net for the Tigers. Max Becker had 3 and Ryan Kuffner, Jeremy Germain, and Derek Topatigh had 2 each.
Dartmouth is now 2-1-2 and 1-1-2. Princeton is 0-4-1 and 0-3-1.