PRINCETON, N.J. — Proving the adage that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, No. 6 Princeton somehow managed to squeak out a 4-3 overtime win against No. 7 Mercyhurst in Baker Rink, with the puck bouncing the Tigers’ way despite being dominated on the statistics sheet. After losing the night before with one second left in the game, the victory was particularly sweet for the Tigers.
“We were definitely fired up. We know that in order to stay on top of the standings and keep moving up we needed to win today,” said Princeton junior defenseman Dina McCumber, who had two goals and an assist on the night. “We played our hearts out and really worked hard.”
Mercyhurst (7-6-1) out-shot Princeton 39 to 23, and also dominated on faceoffs, 39 to 26. But the Tigers (5-3-2) made the most of their opportunities, going 2-for-5 on the power play and scoring only 23 seconds into overtime.
“I thought we clearly outplayed Princeton, we just didn’t get it done on the scoreboard,” said Mercyhurst coach Michael Sisti, looking over the final stats. “The bottom line today was they found a way to outscore us. I think their team played passionately, as we knew they would.”
With the score knotted at three in overtime, Princeton junior forward Kim Pearce stole the puck in the neutral zone and charged the net in her inimitable style. She blasted a shot off of Laker sophomore goaltender Laura Hosier, and freshman forward Annie Greenwood was in perfect position to tap the rebound into a wide-open net.
As with Friday night’s game, this match was a mini-epic full of thrusting and parrying and oscillating momentum. In the first period, Mercyhurst seemed ready to blow Princeton out of the building, peppering Tiger senior goaltender Roxanne Gaudiel with difficult shots and hardly allowing the puck out of the Tigers’ defensive zone. But Gaudiel made several sterling saves, and eventually Princeton found its footing, and the first period ended scoreless.
In the second period Mercyhurst struck first, on a power play. Junior defenseman Ashley Pendleton fired a shot from just inside the blueline that whizzed over the right shoulder of Gaudiel. Five minutes later, Princeton, also on the power play, tied the score at one when McCumber batted in the puck after a small melee in front of the net.
The Lakers, who out-shot the Tigers 16-3 in the second period, came out of the stanza with just a 2-1 lead, courtesy of a goal by junior forward Stefanie Bourbeau.
But Princeton, like a boxer rising from the canvas, gathered themselves and mounted a comeback early in the third period. At 1:23 senior forward Sarah Butsch scored, and then, just over two minutes later, McCumber fired in a shot that Hosier nonchalanted, the puck skipping under her glove, and the Tigers had the lead.
Princeton struggled valiantly to hold onto that lead, but to no avail, as with freshman defender Katherine Dineen in the penalty box, Laker junior forward Jill Nugent fired from between the faceoff circles to tie it 3-3 and send it to overtime.
“I’m really proud of our kids’ effort, we go down late and there’s just no quit in our team,” Sisti said. “We found a way to tie it up, and obviously the turnover in the neutral zone cost us on the last goal, so it’s a tough way to lose.”
One adjustment the Tigers made between Friday night’s loss and Saturday’s victory was the game-plan against Laker freshman sensation Valerie Chouinard. Although Chouinard had two assists in Saturday’s loss, she was held to one shot on goal, compared to 10 the night before.
“We definitely kept an eye out for her today,” McCumber said. “We really didn’t pinpoint her last night in particular but tonight we did. We knew what she did last night and definitely focused on her.”
Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal was unavailable for comment.
Princeton continues a long home-stand with a game against Cornell on Friday night. Mercyhurst will host Yale on Saturday afternoon.