PRINCETON, N.J. – Just over six minutes into the third period, Princeton was leading RPI 2-1. The Engineers were pressing, and a scoring chance ended with RPI’s Milos Bubela bumping Tiger defenseman Tommy Davis and causing a collision with netminder Colton Phinney. Phinney slid and his blocker flew off, but he still managed to make the save.
As soon as the whistle sounded at historic Baker Rink, Davis rose, rushed to the Bubela and grabbed him around the neck. Davis was escorted to the box for roughing. RPI scored on the ensuing power play.
“We thought that there was a little bit of pushing and shoving in front of Colton [Phinney] so we just wanted to get [the referee’s] take,” co-captain Mike Ambrosia “Unfortunately we were the only ones to get the penalty there, but that happens in a game.”
Because of Princeton’s penalty and an unnoticed offside on a later RPI goal, the rare Thursday night game ended in a 3-3.
“It’s frustrating when players leave the pride of the team and the pack of the team and do stuff out of their individual frustrations when you have the game in control,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “That’s the frustrating thing.”
Afer RPI tied the game at 2-2, Tigers took the lead again 4:36 minutes later when Max Veronneau converted a pass from Alex Riche. The clock began ticking down with Princeton skating toward its fifth win of the season – a total last reached in 2013-14.
After some back-and-forth play with four minutes remaining, a Princeton chance gave way to an offensive-zone faceoff. The Engineers won the draw, eventually breaking puck out of their zone. RPI’s Lou Nanne passed it along the neutral zone where it bounced off the boards, so Nanne collected the puck as he skated through the zone. He crossed the blue line, skated towards the net and, amidst onrushing players, slipped the puck to Riley Bourbonnais for the game-tying goal.
Except the Engineers were offsides.
As Nanne collected the puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Princeton’s zone, Zach Schroeder was already well in the offensive zone.
The referees spent several minutes at center ice, stalling puck drop and discussing the goal.
“I think at center ice they [were] just converging to see what the protocol was,” Fogarty said. “If we didn’t utilize our timeout they could’ve checked it with our system. But since we don’t have a common replay setup where we have the overhead and the side angle, it requires a coach’s challenge for an auxiliary vantage point and we used our timeout.
“But it’s human nature and that’s the nature of the game. There was an incident before that that happened that put us in that predicament.”
The overtime period featured several chances for both teams, including Veronneau’s chance at hat trick. The forward found himself in a one-on-one situation, skated past his defender but couldn’t get a shot off because he lost an edge. The Engineers had some chances late in the extra frame, but Phinney stopped all of them.
It was a tough result for the Tigers, who played well in response to a poor effort against Holy Cross on Saturday night. RPI struck in the first period, but Ambrosia tied the game in the second. Freshman Veronneau recorded a team-high three points while Ryan Kuffner added two helpers.
“We just went back to the basics, get back to the fundamentals that we’re doing well during the second six games of the season,” Fogarty said. “We played Clarkson, we played Maine, Yale and Brown. So we did that tonight. The game was very manageable. [We had] a lot more patience, we weren’t running around with our heads cut off. [They’re] a team that’s in the top 16 in the PairWise and they’re going to have some good pushes, buzz around, but we kept a majority of the shots to the outside.”
Despite being outshot 39-23, the Tigers created Grade-A scoring chances and kept many of RPI’s attempts outside of high-danger areas. Phinney made 36 saves.
“We all weren’t pleased with that effort [against Holy Cross],” Ambrosia said. “Pucks were bobbling, we weren’t executing passes, and we know when we don’t do that we struggle to get points, we struggle to win.
“We have to be a good execution team and put effort into it. I think both those areas were lacking in that game. We moved on and we just have to continue to improve, watch video. We know a few things we did do well in that game, but mostly it was just a bad game for us.”
With the tie, Princeton added a point and are now alone in seventh in the ECAC.
“[The team is] mad. You have a chance to win the game,” Fogarty said. “The program has to transition from accepting close games of getting better to demanding wins each game.
“And tonight that’s where our point of emphasis was, to prepare and demand the win from each other that everybody does the right things.”