PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton created the start it needed. But on Saturday night, the Tigers also got what they struggled to find recently – the first goal. And that goal was all the Tigers needed to blast some upbeat songs in the locker room after their second win of the season.
“We had a last minute panic attack and threw on Danza Kuduro,” co-captain Kyle Rankin said. “But that’s about it. We’ll work on it.”
Rankin had one of Princeton’s goals in a 3-0 win over Clarkson on Saturday night. The victory was Colton Phinney’s first career shutout and Princeton’s first shutout since Feb. 9, 2013 – a win over Cornell.
“[It] definitely feels good, kind of a relief,” Phinney said. “[It] got pretty hectic at the end. I started thinking I was never going to get one. But guys made a lot of blocks, got a couple lucky bounces.”
The win over Clarkson also marked Princeton’s first ECAC win of the season. The Tigers are now tied for 10th in the league with Union and Clarkson.
Eric Robinson opened the scoring at the 12:55 mark of the first period, burying the puck into the net. Robinson’s goal cemented a first period where the Tigers outshot the Golden Knights 10-5.
“When we scored the first goal that we could stay under the same structure and we did,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “The third man high tonight did a great job which resulted in the minimal opportunities against. Zero 2-on-1s, maybe a couple of odd man rushes.”
Princeton didn’t give up many Grade-A chances, and Phinney finished the game with 31 saves.
“We did really, really well the entire game, kind of kept them to the outside, took care of rebounds, blocked a lot of shots,” Phinney said. “When we got the lead we played even better, which was nice to see.”
The Golden Knights outshot the Tigers 31-24 on the night, and Clarkson’s Steve Perry made 21 saves. Clarkson pressed in the third period, but Max Veronneau added an inusrance goal in the third for the Tigers.
“If there’s anything we learned about playing in this conference, the first goal is really important considering how tight each and every game is, how similar all the teams are,” Rankin said. “So getting that first goal was huge and getting two and three as insurance makrers were a big help for us as well.”
Veronneau’s goal was the second power play tally for Princeton this season. The Tigers converted one of five power play chances, while it killed off both opposing power plays. Princeton is nearly perfect on th penalty kill this season and leads the nation. Princeton’s power play has struggled this season but improved over the weekend.
“I just think guys are in better spots for each other, [there’s a] lot more communication [and] puck movement’s been a lot more crisp,” Rankin said. “Same with the zone entries. It’s a work in [progress] but I mean staying on special teams, Our penalty kill does a fantastic job each and every night.
“I think we’ve let in one goal all year on the kill and it was an empty netter so doesn’t even count.”