PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton did not receive any help from the rest of the league in its quest for playoff positioning, but it helped itself to a critical victory.
The Tigers (14-12-2, 10-9-2 ECAC) remained in eighth place in the ECAC, snapping Brown’s six-game winning streak, 3-2 ,in front of 1,854 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
“It was a great effort on our part offensively and in our defensive zone,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “We’ve been driving hard to the net all year and it paid off tonight.”
Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer punctuated almost a period’s worth of constant pressure by the Tigers. He put a rebound past prostrate Brown goaltender Yann Danis to give Princeton a 2-1 lead with 16:36 left in the third.
Brad Parsons iced the game for the Tigers, slamming home a beautiful goal-mouth pass from Josh Roberts at 12:17.
“All week we watched tape in practice of how Brown likes to collapse in front of the net,” Parsons said. “We knew we had to make the extra effort to get there.”
It seemed that Princeton had been on the attack since 4:32 of the second period, when George Parros tied the game at one, squeezing a Neil Stevenson-Moore rebound through the legs of Danis.
The 6-5, 220-pound Parros has been a second half revelation for the Tigers, finally having an offensive output equal to his large frame. His goal was his third in three games and he now has 21 points on the season, good for second on the team behind linemate David Del Monte.
“Things are starting to go in for me,” Parros said. “In general as a team, we are starting to get the bounces lately.”
After the Parros goal, Quesnelle was able to roll his lines with each establishing a forecheck, buzzing shots around Danis. However, the Bears talented sophomore netminder held the fort for the rest of the frame, stoning Parros on a breakaway with five minutes remaining in the second. He made 13 saves overall in the period.
Still, Parros’ strike lifted the Princeton spirit and gave it the confidence it needed to score upon a netminder who has beaten then-No. 2 St. Cloud and posted back-to-back shutouts at Clarkson and St. Lawrence this season.
“Danis is the hottest goaltender in the ECAC,” Parros said. “We had to get some traffic in front of him because even the best goalies can get rattled with people in front of him.”
“[My goal] was a big goal,” he added. “It was good to break the barrier against Danis and it got momentum our way.”
The Tigers have struggled to finish all season. Their 2.11 goals per game average is better than only lowly Vermont in the ECAC. Princeton has improved somewhat as of late, but the offensive zone play was still a new sight to many fans at Hobey Baker this year. The Tiger effort was finally rewarded with Fouladgar-Mercer’s rebound goal.
“This was certainly a disappointing loss,” said Brown coach Roger Grillo. “After winning six in a row, we had a chance for home ice. “We gave them 20 minutes and you cannot do that in this league.”
Freshman winger Mike Meech made an interesting finish, needing three whacks at a rebound to put a shot past Princeton goaltender Dave Stathos. Brown sophomore Brent Robinson gave the Bears an early 1-0 lead, scoring on the power play with a nifty move to free up a shot in the slot. Robinson has been hot lately for the Bears, with at least one point in six of his last seven games.
Overall, however, Brown did not give Stathos much work, getting only 18 shots on goal. Danis stopped 26.
“In the second period, they totally outplayed us,” Grillo said. “We did not work hard at all and they capitalized. Give them credit.”
Princeton now is unbeaten in its last four games. The victory over Brown, however, did not clinch a playoff berth for the Tigers. With Yale, St. Lawrence, and Union all winning, Princeton can still finish as high as sixth or as low as 11th depending on its game Saturday against Harvard.
“Since the exam break, we have given a consistent effort each night,” Quesnelle said. “We went to Vermont and Dartmouth last week and took three points and that gave us confidence that carried over into practice this week.
“And there will always be a little extra energy in the building when you play Harvard.”