PRINCETON, N.J – For the second night in a row, the Tigers (2-8-1, 1-6-0 ECAC) found themselves down, pressing with just minutes remaining in the third.
Trailing 4-2, the Tigers reeled off six attempts with their net empty. Dartmouth’s Eric Neiley went to the box, giving Princeton a 6-on-4 power play with 36 seconds left.
Blue liner Joey Grabowski found the puck on his stick twice as the seconds disappeared. He took a couple shots, but couldn’t bring any past Dartmouth’s James Kruger.
For the second night in a row, the Tigers couldn’t complete the comeback.
And for the second night in a row, it was a lapse of focus that hurt Princeton.
“Obviously we played a lot better yesterday,” coach Ron Fogarty said. “That was our worst seven minute span of hockey late in the second period. And so we just can’t afford that.”
After Princeton scored to cut the score to 3-2 in the second, Dartmouth responded with 18 attempts to Princeton’s five. The Tigers attempted 15 shots in the frame, while the Big Green (4-4-1, 2-4-1 ECAC) attempted 27.
Tyler Sikura capped the onslaught of shots by scoring over midway through the second, giving Dartmouth a 4-2 lead.
“We have to play in units of five and we can’t look for the desperate situations. But as bad as we played, [we] lost by two. It’s irrelevant, but that was awful, the second period.”
Unable to overcome a Dartmouth-dominated second period, Princeton fell 4-2 to the Big Green on Saturday night. The win was Dartmouth’s second straight over Princeton, but first at Baker Rink since Nov. 20, 2010.
The Tigers started the game well and controlled possession, but Dartmouth didn’t need the puck for long to get the lead. It took the Big Green five shot attempts to earn a 1-0 lead, when Corey Kalk scored 5:45 minutes into the game.
Dartmouth finished the frame with 17 shots, taking a total of 42. Colton Phinney, making his sixth-straight loss, finished with 38 saves in the loss.
Princeton, which took 31 shots, allowed 10 attempts from just outside the crease, and Dartmouth scored on three of those attempts.
“He played well. Our net front presence for their goals was awful,” Fogarty said. “They’re whacking away at pucks and not one person was laying the body. It became a non-contact sport in front of Colton and that can’t happen. We have to protect him and keep pushing out and we did a lot of pulling tonight. For the first time I’ve seen this year, a lot of pulling.”
Princeton’s top three lines stayed the same, while Ryan Berlin and Michael Zajac rejoined the lineup in place of Connor McLaren and Max Becker.
Two Tiger lines accounted for both goals, as Aaron Kesselman netted his second goal in as many games, assisted by Garrett Skrbich and Tucker Brockett. Jonathan Liau scored in the second, helped by linemates Mike Ambrosia and Kyle Rankin.
Liau’s goal came on the power play, giving Princeton one tally on seven power play chances against Dartmouth’s sixth-ranked penalty kill. The Tigers kept Dartmouth scoreless through five man-advantage tries.
The Tigers are on a three-game losing streak, and have won once in the last nine games. But the last four contests have all been two-goal or less contests.
“[We] just got to keep working at it,” Fogarty said. “It’s just, again, at Christmas time we’ll know. We have to make sure [when] we’re coming off the Christmas break that we’re hitting with everything from.
“It’s a great learning for our guys to realize what we can’t do and then take from that and get better.”