PRINCETON, N.J. — An eight-game unbeaten streak gave No. 9 Clarkson an USCHO ranking on Monday in just the program’s second ECACHL season, but the Golden Knights could not pass their first test as marked women in a taut 2-1 defeat to No. 8 Princeton at Baker Rink on Friday.
Tigers junior forward Kim Pearce was one of the few who could find cracks in the opposition’s fortress, as she scored the Tigers’ second goal and assisted on the first. In setting up the first goal on a power play late in the second period, Pearce caught a ricochet off a skate and dished to forward Annie Greenwood. The freshman fired a shot that rebounded to junior forward Laura Watt for the finish.
The eventual game-winner for the Tigers (4-2-1, 2-1 ECACHL) came early in the third period, when Pearce made a steal at the blue line and went in unopposed against Golden Knight junior goaltender Kira Hurley. Pearce, showing patience with the puck, shot five-hole as soon as Hurley committed and gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. That advantage seemed comfortable at the time, since Princeton had dominated the action behind tenacious defense and senior Roxanne Gaudiel’s excellent netminding.
Clarkson (9-3-1, 4-1) naturally had other ideas. Princeton outshot the Golden Knights 13-4 in the second period, but Clarkson turned that figure on its head in the final frame. Gaudiel was up to the challenge though, knocking shot after shot aside.
When Hurley was whistled for a delay of game penalty with just under five minutes left, Clarkson’s comeback hopes looked dim. But some lackadaisical play on the point led to Clarkson captain Lindsay Williams intercepting the puck and going top-shelf for a shorthanded goal that cut the Tiger deficit to one.
Clarkson kept up the pressure for the remaining minutes, and the Tigers held on by their fingernails. Things got particularly white-knuckled when, after Clarkson pulled Hurley for the extra skater, Princeton junior defenseman Dina McCumber was called for a roughing penalty. The Golden Knights had a 6-on-4 advantage for the last eighteen seconds, but some sharp stickwork by the Tigers ended the threat.
“I’m not sure why, but they didn’t really show up today, and I think we were due for a let-down after the run we’ve had,” said Clarkson coach Rick Seeley. “Princeton plays a good solid game of hockey and I told my guys that if they don’t come ready, they’re not going to be able to skate with them. We had a too many men on the ice penalty for the first goal, and a turnover on the second, and you can’t make mistakes like that against a team like that, they’ll take advantage.”
“I thought the first two periods we dominated, and then they dominated us in the third,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said. “We just kind of held on and gutted it out. I think we took a little mental break after Pearce scored that second goal and thought it would be an easier road.”
Princeton will next face No. 1 St. Lawrence at home on Saturday. Clarkson travels to Quinnipiac the same day.