PRINCETON, N.J. – After Princeton coach Ron Fogarty earned his first Division I win, a 2-1 victory of Cornell, the Tigers (1-1-1) gave him the game puck.
“I’m probably going to gift-wrap this and give it to myself for Christmas,” Fogarty said. “It’s the best present I’ve had all year.”
But he didn’t want it.
“It means a lot that it came from the guys. That’s what it is. It came from them, I didn’t expect it, I don’t want it,” Fogarty said. “It should go to Colton Phinney. He’s the person that deserves this puck. But I’m very honored that they thought of me. And the staff.”
After Garrett Skrbich scored an empty-net goal, Phinney was 16 seconds away from earning a shutout. But Cornell’s Patrick McCarron scored to bring the score to 2-1.
Phinney made 40 saves on the night, including 13 on the penalty kill. In the waning minutes of the third, Phinney also stopped Cornell on a partial breakaway. Seconds later, Phinney slid to his right to stop another Big Red shot.
“All the praise goes to that man,” Fogarty said. “It’s how you rebound anything you do in life, and he rebounded from the Merrimack game and did a great job.”
The victory was Princeton’s first of the season, and first over Cornell since the Tigers swept the Big Red (0-2-1) in the 2012-13 regular season.
The Tigers had to hold off an onslaught from the Big Red, as Cornell dominated puck possession for most of the game. Cornell attempted 90 shots on the night, including 40 in the opening game.
“Bend don’t break,” Fogarty said. “We’re still doing a better job with sticks on the ice and we just have to be a team that can’t take penalties.
“We’re using guys in impact times a lot, the same four guys, so we need to be a four-line team to be successful. We saw that at times where we got the puck in deep, but we weathered a lot of storms from Cornell today. They’re a very good hockey team.”
Aaron Ave scored first, getting Princeton the board 3:14 into the game with a shot from the blue line on the power play.
“I think his leadership is going unnoticed,” Fogarty said. “He’s an alternate captain. We have both the captain [Tyler] Maugeri out and [Mike] Ambrosia out. His leadership off the ice is second to none and he wants to go out with a bang as a senior. He’s playing great.”
The Tigers took five penalties on the night, including a couple back to back, but killed off all of Cornell’s power play chances
“Our best penalty killer was Colton Phiney,” Fogarty said.
“Our penalty killers did a good job of watching our back door. When you have a six man at the end there and they expose our back door and those are the easy tap in goals but we did a good job watching that during the penalty kill.”
The lineups continued to change, as freshman Max Becker appeared on the fourth line with Connor McLaren and Michael Zajac, while Marlon Sabo sat.
The defense remained the same, as Ave played with Nelson, Tom Kroshus and Quin Pompi played together while Tommy Davis and Grabowski stayed on the same pair.
“The chemistry comes with practice and you need the games, and that was a great game to play against,” Fogarty said. “They’re a big strong team and to see us pay the way we did, once we got composed we played really well.”
Despite the win, Fogarty said the team — which finished with 20 shots in the game — has a lot to improve on.
“Not panicking with the puck in the defense zone,” Fogarty said. “When teams are quicker, you have to make sure you puck protect and realze it’s five against three [at] the top of the circles.
“Our guys just have to keep believing that there’s no clock that says you have to break out of your zone. Just relax and we’ll go out under cintrol when need be. And make smart plays.”