PRINCETON, N.J. — Len Quesnelle has preached the importance of gaining points from the moment he took over as head coach at Princeton last May. His players apparently have listened closely.
The Tigers earned a valuable point on Friday at Baker Rink with a 4-4 tie against hated Clarkson in the ECAC opener for both clubs. The tie didn’t snap Princeton’s winless streak against Clarkson, which now is 0-5-2, but it did keep the Tigers undefeated on the season at 1-0-2.
“Even though we lost the lead late in the third period, it definitely was a
good point,” said Princeton sophomore forward George Parros, who had two goals and an assist. “We need confidence starting the season, so we’ll take this point. Especially against Clarkson. We’re sick of them.”
Princeton — which hosts St. Lawrence, arguably the top team in the conference, Saturday at 7 p.m. — took a 2-1 lead into the third period. Clarkson pulled ahead at 3-2 with two goals a couple of minutes apart in the opening eight minutes of the third period, neither of which were the fault of junior goalie Dave Stathos, who played a strong match, making 39 saves, including two from
point-blank range inside the final two minutes of regulation.
The Tigers fought back to tie at 12:59 of the third, when Parros scored his second of the night. After several seconds of pressure, the 6-foot-5 Parros gained position in front and was able to redirect a shot from Kirk Lamb past goalie Shawn Grant, who was knocked back into the net as the puck crossed the goal line. Clarkson disputed the goal, claiming Parros ran Grant.
Parros — surprise, surprise — said he was pushed into Grant by a defender.
“[Parros] ran the goalie, or he bumped the goalie,” said Clarkson head coach Mark Morris, who clearly was upset afterward by the officiating of referee Fred Campatelli, which seems to be a common occurance when his team plays Princeton. “There was a lot of contact in the crease that wasn’t called. There were a lot of things that weren’t called. It was humiliating to have to endure the things we did tonight.”
The goal stood despite the protest by Morris and his players. Almost five minutes later, with 2:36 remaining, junior Brad Parsons scored from the slot off a nice feed from senior Chris Corrinet to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. It was the Tigers’ third power-play goal of the night.
However, poor coverage in the defensive zone by Princeton, and an extra attacker for the pulled Grant, allowed Rob McFeeters to tie the match with just 1:13 remaining. McFeeters actually was untouched as he sneaked behind Stathos and into the crease to put home a loose rebound.
“If we’re going anywhere this year, we’ve got to take care of business in our own end,” Quesnelle said. “Stathos made some great saves, some of which I didn’t see, but we didn’t help him on some of those rebounds. Clarkson prides itself on getting to the net. And when they get there, they’ve got some big bodies.”
Quesnelle was pleased with the point nonetheless.
“Every point is important,” he said. “We’ll be looking back saying what a big point it was. This league is always so tight, sometimes one point makes the difference. That’s why we’re trying to get points every weekend.”
Morris, whose team plays at Yale tonight, had a different view.
“That was too much energy expended to come up with nothing, with a game [tonight],” he said. “I give Princeton all the credit for their play the first two periods. But we had the upper hand in the third.”
Unpredictably, these two teams have become the most heated of rivals. They have played each other in a number of heated playoff games, dating back to the 1995 ECAC Tournament Final Four, through a two-OT win by Princeton for its first ECAC title in 1998. That was followed by the 80-foot bomb by Willie Mitchell that won a game for Clarkson the following year in Lake Placid with two seconds left after Princeton had rallied from down four goals, and last year’s two one-goal defeats by Princeton at Clarkson in the quarterfinals.
Scott Esposito covers Princeton hockey for The Trentonian.