For the second night in a row, Princeton and Clarkson were going into overtime. But this time it was the Tigers who’d clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the third period, trying to keep their season from ending.
And for the second straight night, James de Haas gave Clarkson the win as the Golden Knights swept the ECAC playoff series.
“When you’re down 2-0 in an elimination game, it’s easy for the team to fold and get ready for the offseason,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “But our guys battled through and competed extremely hard.
“Clarkson rolled four lines and we shortened our bench up in both overtimes. But we had chances. There was no question that our conditioning was there. That enabled our guys to compete for 80 minutes and for 76 on the weekend.”
The Golden Knights struck first, going up 1-0 off a Aaron Thow shot from the blue line after a faceoff win. Simon Bessette made it 2-0 9:41 minutes into the opening frame, converting a feed in the slot from Jeff DiNallo.
Princeton began playing better later in the first period, creating some scoring chances including a Max Veronneau bid. The Tigers opened the second with some more chances, including an attempt at an open net that deflected off a Clarkson player in front.
“The first period [we] came out a little flat on our heels,” Fogarty said. “[In] the second and third period we battled back and had a lot of fight and weren’t going to lay down. It was a great effort by our guys.”
The Tigers finally cut it to 2-1 on a breakaway where Alex Riche fed the puck to Max Veronneau. Ben Foster tied the game 1:59 into the third when a seemingly innocent shot from the blue line went past Clarkson’s Greg Lewis.
“Veronneau and [Ryan] Kuffner played very well,” Fogarty said. “They created opportunities, as well as the Skrbich-Rankin-Siiro line. They had a great chance in overtime. But those five guys played really well.”
Clarkson again had a power play with less than two minutes left in regulation, but the Tigers killed most of it clogged up along the boards with less than a minute left.
The Tigers did clear the puck to a Golden Knight , but Colton Phinney came up with the save. Phinney finished with 44 stops he night.
“He was back to his normal self,” Fogarty said. “Both games he controlled rebounds extremely well, was very quiet in his net, was very composed as well.”
Princeton finished the season without David Hallisey, Max Becker and Matt Nelson back in the lineup. Stuart Pomeroy filled in on offense while Marlon Sabo took Nelson’s spot on the blue line.
Kuffner, Alex Riche, Mike Ambrosia and Joe Grabowski each recorded assists. The helper was Kuffner’s 20th point of the season, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer. Veronneau finished second with 17.
“[When] your two main scorers are freshmen. [it] speaks volumes of the team accepting them and not jealous or envious of playing time,” Fogarty said. “The upperclassmen want the best for the team so it doesn’t matter who comes in. They want to have a chance to win, so the upperclassmen gave them the opportunities to succeed by welcoming them from Day 1.”