One night after giving up the game-winning goal, Princeton returned to Thompson Arena for a do-or-die Game 2. Rebounding from the heartbreak, Princeton turned in a good first period.
It was an overall good effort from the Tigers, but not enough to keep Dartmouth from winning the game and the series 2-0.
The loss marked the ninth time this season Princeton was shut out, and the Tigers were winless on the road. Despite the two losses in the ECAC opening round, the improvement in Princeton was visible over the weekend.
“I thought the weekend was really good hockey, and for a 12 to 5 [seed] matchup I thought it was great,” Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty said. “Both games were really close and great opportunities all throughout both 60 minutes.”
Princeton, thanks to Colton Phinney, kept the Big Green scoreless and the tennis balls off the ice for over half the game. Over halfway through the second period, Brad Scheirhorn gave Dartmouth the 1-0 lead.
Princeton responded by creating scoring chances of its own, and came close to tying the game on several occasions. The Tigers pulled Colton Phinney with 1:02 left, but Dartmouth’s Eric Robinson sealed the victory with an empty netter with five seconds left.
“Everything we worked [on] from October 15 until this weekend, I thought we saw it come to fruition,” Fogarty said. “Guys worked extremely hard throughout the season without gaining a lot of wins or tangible rewards, so to see them to keep working hard throughout the season was extremely satisfying.”
Princeton played with a distorted defensive core, as Tommy Davis sat out with a league-issued suspension. Hayden Anderson took his place with Joe Grabowski, while Kevin Liss filled in for Quin Pompi.
James Kruger made some key saves to keep the Tigers from equalizing, and he made 17 stops on the night and went 4-0 against Princeton this season.
Phinney kept Dartmouth off the scoreboard as long as he could, making 30 saves in his 28th start.
“He had a great season and he’s going to still get better,” Fogarty said. “We need him to still get better and we need him to be better as well too and we have a lot of guys that we’re excited to have back for next season.”
The series loss marked the sixth-straight season the Tigers failed to advance past the first round. Statistically, the 2014-15 campaign ended as was one of the worst Princeton seasons, but the Tigers are poised for improvement heading into next year.
“The foundation is set for where we wanted to get to,” Fogarty said. “The seniors, through their work ethic and commitment have paved the way now for the next seven years. The current freshmen will know what it takes and they’ll keep passing that on for the next classes.”
Note: Quotes provided by Josh Seguin of College Hockey News