PRINCETON, N.J. — By Mindy Drexel/USCHO Arena Reporter
PRINCETON, N.J. —
Tiger fans were treated to some exciting hockey this weekend, but by the time the final buzzer sounded, supporters were fairly quiet, their team having just suffered two heartbreaking losses.
Coming off a hard-fought 3-2 loss to Clarkson on Friday night, Princeton was poised to bounce back with a win as they held a 4-3 lead with three minutes to go. But St. Lawrence came up with three goals in the final 2:05 to thwart the Tigers.
“It was such a back-and-forth game with the momentum going to them and back to us,” said Saints forward Stace Page, who scored the game-winning goal with 34 seconds left. “We never really did get a good flow to the game.”
“Right now it’s easy to look down and not have that burning desire to get better,” Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “This is the perfect opportunity. Exams are coming; these guys are going to have to show a lot of discipline to do well on their exams. … but at the same time, [use] time management to stay in condition. The timing couldn’t be better for a gut check to see if the hockey gods favor extra character or not.”
Dustin Sproat, who tallied two goals and an assist in the game, put Princeton (5-12-1, 4-8-0 ECAC) ahead 4-3 with a strong second effort with 5:14 to go in the game. Patrick Neundorfer chipped the puck into the zone, and Sproat was able to outrace an SLU defenseman and whack the puck past goalie Mike McKenna.
Gadowsky praised Sproat’s efforts.
“[He's] a guy that works so hard on the boards, took hits to make plays; he backchecked extremely hard. He’s the one who scored the go-ahead goal by just using his guts. He was tired and he sprinted out and he got a heck of a goal,” he said.
However, at 17:55, SLU defenseman Mike Madill’s shot from the point was redirected by Adam Hogg passed goalie Eric Leroux to tie the game.
With overtime looming, the Saints rushed down the ice, and Page picked up the rebound from a Josh Anderson shot and scored the dramatic goal with 34 seconds left.
“At that point in the game you just want to get shots on net,” Page said. “Anything can happen if you put the puck on net. … Josh Anderson was going to the net and took three guys with him, and it was just kind of sitting there waiting for me to put it in.”
John Zeiler would add an empty-net goal, his second tally of the night, with one second left to punctuate the win.
Despite playing from behind for the majority of the period, the Saints had the territorial advantage and outshot the Tigers 18-10 in the third.
Princeton opened up the scoring early in the first when Sebastian Borza rushed down the left wing and blasted a shot at SLU goalie Mike McKenna, who made the save, but the rebound came right to Kevin Westgarth, who scored his third goal of the season.
But the Saints (10-9-1, 5-4-0) capitalized on a Tiger turnover in the defensive zone with 5:30 to go in the period. An opportunistic T.J. Trevelyan picked up the loose puck and went in on goalie Eric Leroux. Leroux almost stopped the puck, but it trickled through his legs and in to give SLU some momentum.
The rest of the period was hectic in Princeton’s defensive zone as SLU had numerous chances near Leroux’s crease. Leroux came up huge in the last five minutes of the period, including a glove save on a Max Taylor slap shot on the power play with 2:47 to go.
However, Leroux’s 10 saves in the period weren’t enough to let the Tigers escape the first with a tie, as Zeiler received a Trevelyan pass and, with his back turned to the goal, backhanded the puck over Leroux and in for his fifth goal of the season at 18:09.
The Saints almost went up 3-1 with 12 seconds to go when a shot deflected off Colin FitzRandolph and into the net, but referee Alex Dell immediately called the goal off because the puck was directed in with the skate.
Sproat tied the game at 2 at 3:07 of the second, one-timing a Luc Paquin pass for his 12th goal of the season.
The second period was McKenna’s turn to experience a frenzy in his zone, as Princeton had territorial control in the period. The Tigers broke through to take the lead at 15:42 when Sproat fed defenseman Jesse Masear, who ripped a shot from the point that zipped through McKenna and in for his third goal of the season.
Leroux stoned Anderson with a glove save early in the third, but Anderson got his revenge a few minutes later, beating Leroux at 2:42 for his 14th goal of the season
St. Lawrence travels to Potsdam, N.Y., next Saturday to play Clarkson, while Princeton, which has exams coming up, doesn’t start the second half of its six-game homestand until Jan. 25 against Bentley.