Princeton fell to Minnesota 6-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday. The Tigers finished the season with a 22-9-2 record – the most wins in program history. The NCAA tournament appearance was just the second in program history.
“I told the team after the end of the game that I’m really proud of them,” Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal told reporters after the game. “We had an awesome season, an emotional season, and our kids battled all year long.”
Senior Jaimie McDonell struck first, scoring 29 seconds into the game.
“You dream about it,” McDonell said. “You visualize a goal on the first shift, but to make that a reality was a big start. Unfortunately, we didn’t continue that, but we set the tone and did our best.”
But Princeton’s lead didn’t last long, as Hannah Brandt tied the game four minutes later on the power play. Amanda Kessel followed with a shorthanded goal 1:14 minutes later to give Minnesota the lead for good. Kessel added a power play goal to give Minnesota the 3-1 lead after the first.
Sarah Potomak and Dani Cameranesi scored in the second period. Kessel followed with her third goal to put the Gophers ahead 6-1 after the second.
“Their first two lines are really good,” Kampersal said. “We did come out hard. The first five minutes we always try to focus on winning that opening throw out and getting the puck in deep, and we did that with pressure. We got a goal there.
“If you’ve ever seen that [Saturday Night Live] sketch with Bruce Dickinson and the cowbell sketch, we both put our equipment on the same way, but when they put theirs on, they were scoring goals and having opportunities. We had 27 or 28 shots on goal. We had good ideas on how we wanted to set things up, but when they got their chances, they produced goals.”
Molly Contini scored in the last minute of regulation to cut the Gopher lead to 6-2. Contini finished with two points, while Karen MacDonald, Fiona McKenna and Kelsey Koelzer added assists.
The Gophers dominated possession, outshooting the Tigers 43-27. Goaltender Kimberly Newell topped her record-breaking career with 37 saves in the loss. Minnesota’s Amanda Leveille made 25 saves while Kessell finished with four points. Kelsey Cline, Lee Stecklein, Hannah Brandt and Sarah Potomak each netted two points.
“Even in the third period we played hard until the final whistle blew,” Kampersal said. “So I’m just really proud of our group, lad by Jaimie. [She’s] just a heart and soul player and was indicative of our kids playing hard all year long.”