PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Princeton needed more time than usual to get its equipment ready on Saturday against Brown, but once the Tigers got their skates and skills sharp, Brown could not handle the pressure.
The Bears jumped to a 3-1 lead 14:23 into the second period, but No. 9 Princeton (20-8-0, 12-5-0 ECAC) came roaring back for a 6-3 victory and a one-point edge over No. 10 Brown (15-10-2, 11-5-1) for fourth place. All three third period goals were netted by Princeton Kazmaier nominee Gretchen Anderson, now the nation’s third 30-goal scorer. Jessica Link netted two goals for Brown in the first period that went for naught.
Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal gave sophomore Heather Jackson credit for turning the game’s momentum around with some gritty blocked shots well before Anderson provided the finishing at the end.
Said Kampersal of Jackson’s blocked shots: “Those gutsy plays get the momentum and the energy going, and everyone cheering from the bench. Otherwise, if you get down, you can get dead quickly and that doesn’t work well for us. We’re a team that plays really well when we play with a lot of emotion.”
That emotion first made a difference on the scoreboard when the Tigers’ Angela Gooldy
threaded a low shot from the point through traffic to cut their deficit to 3-2 at 16:26 of the second period during a two-man advantage. Gooldy now has goals in three consecutive games, and Kampersal says the senior defenseman has been dangerous with nearly every shot she’s taken from the point.
Just 2:20 later the Tigers evened the score 3-3 when sophomore Sarah Butsch decided to take a near-side shot for herself on a 2-on-1.
“We got a little ahead of ourselves,” Link said of Brown’s blown lead. “We lost focus and didn’t do the little things, so it all adds up.”
Princeton was inspired by the assist earned by senior Susan Hobson on the game-tying goal. Hobson, who had been injured and hadn’t been expected to play, showed Kampersal she was ready to go today with her passing abilities and her play along the boards.
Then despite Brown’s focus on stopping her, Anderson kept coming out of nowhere to make the difference, beginning with 2:21 left in the third period. As Jackson was stuck behind the net, Anderson kicked the puck out front and wrapped around to put it through Katie Germain’s five-hole for the 4-3 lead.
Anderson added the critical insurance goal with just under two minutes to go when from the slot, she deflected in an airborne shot from linemate and Princeton captain Lisa Rasmussen. The inspired Anderson completed the hat trick with an uncontested empty-net goal with 30 seconds left.
“When we were in the locker room our coach gave us some inspirational comments and we knew we had to pull it out and get home ice next weekend,” Anderson said. “We just came out strong. We knew we had to do it, and we knew we had to do it together. That’s what makes a winning team.”
Princeton claimed the victory despite a 42-to-25 shot advantage for Brown. Megan Van Beusekom made 39 saves and answered the bell every time Princeton need it, while Katie Germain stopped just 19 of 24 for Brown. Kampersal also credited his top defensemen Dina McCumber, Gooldy, Katharine Maglione and Chrissie Norwich for limiting the number of quality shots in the end.
Early in the game, it was a different story. Princeton let Link get loose twice in the first period, first on an uncontested rebound at the crease from an Amy McLaughlin shot at 9:37 and a second time off a breakaway coming out of the penalty box in the final seconds. On the second score, she took a pass from Keaton Zucker while the Tigers were packed in on the other end. On her patient finish, she cut across the crease and held the puck long enough to pull Van Beusekom down for an easy top-shelf finish.
Princeton finally scored on its fifth power play opportunity, when McCumber and Gooldy worked the puck from the points to Jackson for the finish in front. But Kathryn Moos got that one back when she threaded the puck inside the left post off a setup from Link at the 14:23 mark. But Brown would get no more.
Kampersal said he had a sixth sense that Princeton wasn’t going to start strong this game, as there were equipment failures galore. One players’ skate broke and could not repaired, and Princeton needed Brown’s help to sharpen other skates.
“We weren’t focused, then we came out and Brown was all over us,” Kampersal said. “Then we read them the riot act a little bit in the second period.”
Because of the defeat, Brown will need Princeton to lose to Harvard tomorrow to earn home ice for the playoffs. The Bears will also have to win a rematch against Yale, whose goaltender Sarah Love has been tough to beat lately. Brown coach Digit Murphy needed some time to find something positive to say out of this loss.
“We played a good first period, and we figure we play better on the road,” she said. “We do play better on the road.”
She’s right. Brown’s biggest wins of the year over Princeton and St. Lawrence both came on the road. Seven of its 10 losses have been at home.
Now Princeton plays Harvard tomorrow, with plenty on the line. The Tigers will be looking to clinch home ice, while Harvard will be looking to clinch the ECAC’s No. 1 seed.