PRINCETON, N.J. — Thus far this year, Princeton has gotten very good at extending a game to overtime. Winning it — now that’s another story.
For the second time in three games this season, the Tigers found themselves in sudden death, and for the second time in three games, the opposition put the puck past sophomore goaltender Eric Leroux. In both teams’ ECAC opener, Jon Smyth scored 30 seconds into overtime to give Colgate (3-1-1, 1-0-0 ECAC) a 3-2 win over Princeton (0-3-0, 0-1-0) in front of 1,627 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink on Friday.
Princeton has not won an overtime game since March 5, 1999 at Rensselaer. The Tigers are 0-5-14 over that stretch.
“This game should show us that we can come out and compete with any team in college hockey,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “Two overtime games in three contests. We’re close … We came out and were prepared to play.”
The score had been tied at two since the middle of the second period, but early in overtime a Princeton turnover sent a rush the other way. Colgate junior center Dave Thomas wristed a shot from the left point that deflected off a Tiger defenseman and Smyth for the sophomore’s first game-winning goal of his career.
“Princeton took the puck into the zone and started to cycle,” said Colgate coach Stan Moore about the game-winner. “Our guys held their ground and stopped the cycle. An errant pass sent the play the other way. The puck deflected off one of their guys and it ping-ponged in.”
“Both teams had momentum tonight,” Moore added. “We came out and scored a quick goal and had the momentum on our side, and then Princeton took it away from us with a rush in which we had a whole bleed — everybody made a defensive mistake. But we didn’t do that on the last goal.”
Princeton center Mike Patton had a golden opportunity to avoid overtime altogether. With just over two minutes remaining in regulation, he was sprung on a breakaway, and tried to deke the puck under Colgate goalie Steve Silverthorn’s right pad, but the netminder stayed with Patton all the way.
“It was a great opportunity,” Quesnelle said. “To not be able to cash in on the opportunity — well, look at what happened in overtime.”
The goal would have been a culmination of an excellent night of work in which Patton, along with wingers Chris Owen and Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer established a strong forecheck and pressured Silverthorn, especially in the first two periods.
Princeton peppered Silverthorn with 26 shots through two periods, and Colgate managed 19 on Leroux in the same span. However, the Raiders outshot the Tigers, 14-5, in the third period.
Leroux, coming off a weekend at No. 13 St. Cloud in which he made a total of 88 saves, had a strong outing, making 31 stops despite giving up a soft goal to Adam Mitchell on Colgate’s second shot of the game that gave the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.
“On the first goal, Leroux said the shot kind of dipped on him,” Quesnelle said. “However, he had another 30-save performance and he gave us a chance to win once again.”
Princeton’s Brian Carthas tied the score at 13:03 of the first period for his first collegiate goal. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead on the power play at 1:43 when Jesse Masear’s slapshot from the left point deflected off a Colgate defender into the net. Masear’s shot was from about the same spot as the overtime winner.
Mitchell evened the score on a five-on-three man advantage at 6:54 of the second period. Dmitri Yashin found him at the bottom of the left faceoff circle and he was so open that he had time to take a full windup before blasting it past Leroux.
“We look to the [Mitchell line] to generate offense and encourage the other lines to do the same,” Moore said. “We want them to feel free and comfortable to do things like that.”
The game turned chippy in the second period as the hitting increased, resulting in six penalties. Each team took a minor penalty for running the goaltender, and both hits seemed to increase the game’s intensity.
Princeton went 1-for-5 with the man advantage, while Colgate was 1-for 3.
Colgate will travel to Yale Saturday for a 7 p.m. game at Ingalls Rink. Princeton gets another crack at its first conference victory, hosting No. 15 Cornell.