PRINCETON, N.J. – In the third period, Colton Phinney remained in his net, watching the puck cycle in front of him. He was less than one period away from earning his first collegiate shutout, but Clarkson wasn’t making the bid easy.
The Golden Knights controlled possession in the last frame, attempting 31 shots.
“[It] got pretty hectic at the end,” Phinney said. “I started thinking I was never going to get one.”
But Princeton kept most of the attempts away from the Grade-A scoring areas, and Phinney was able to keep the rest out with 12 saves in the last frame for the 3-0 win. And after the game, Phinney’s teammates surrounded him in a postgame hug before completing their first home stick salute for the season.
“[The] guys made a lot of blocks, got a couple lucky bounces,” Phinney. “But [it] definitely feels really good.”
Phinney made 31 stops overall in the victory, which was Princeton’s first shutout since Feb. 9, 2013. The shutout also came nearly one year after Phinney earned his first Division I win, which was coincidentally the last time Princeton defeated a ranked opponent.
The defense held the theme of limiting quality scoring chances for the entire game, including a first period where the Tigers allowed just five shots against.
“We did a pretty good job of keeping them to the outside, but at the same time [Phinney] had a heck of a night, got his first career shutout,” co-captain Kyle Rankin said. “So we’re really proud of him. He keeps us in every game and he deserved that shutout big time.”
Phinney, the backbone of Princeton for the last two seasons, has started every game this year for the Tigers. Before the season, Phinney said he wanted to work on playing the puck, something he still wants to improve.
“[I] haven’t really done much with it, [I] kind of let the guys take care of it in back, they’re much better than I am,” Phinney said. “But I definitely need to still work on that and try to help them out more.”
Even without playing the puck, Phinney’s .943 save percentage is seventh in the country. Last night, though, Phinney was pulled in a 5-1 loss to St. Lawrence after allowing four goals on 34 shots.
“He responded great from being pulled last night,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “For him to bounce back with that type of effort showed great professionalism.”