PRINCETON, N.J. — Heather Jackson, the senior, two-time co-captain of the No. 6 Princeton Tigers, is the type of player that real hockey fans enjoy watching. She is a tireless, hard worker who does not put up flashy numbers but never misses a game. It was therefore fitting that she scored two huge third-period goals to salt away a 3-0 win over Yale at Hobey Baker Rink that clinched the Tigers’ first Ivy title since 1995 and their first outright title since 1992.
Senior goaltender Roxanne Gaudiel also came up big in her final regular-season home game, with a shutout and 20 saves, several of which elicited gasps of astonishment from the partisan crowd.
“It was a perfect ending,” Gaudiel said. “Heather Jackson, senior, getting two humongous goals and everyone just playing really well, really great defense.”
Jackson made the score 2-0 halfway through the third period when she knocked in a rebound off a shot by freshman Annie Greenwood on the power play. Just over two minutes later, Jackson struck again, this time on a perfect feed by sophomore MaryKate Oakley.
“Jacko has had an amazing career,” Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal said, “but just in the second half she’s been really tough, really on fire. More offensive than she’s been in a while, whether she’s scoring or getting shots on goal. She digs pucks out of corners, she blocks shots, she basically does it all. Her influence, along with those other seniors, rubs off on the other players.”
The win was the seventh in a row for Princeton (19-6-4, 15-3-2 ECACHL), and it snapped a five-game winless streak against Yale.
“Yale’s been a thorn in our side for so long,” Kampersal said, “and they really pressured us tonight. Our strength is our breakout, and they hemmed us in our zone pretty well and we finally started chipping out over their D, and it helped. They gave us all we could handle.”
Yale (11-13-5, 8-8-4 ECACHL) fought gallantly, and their senior goaltender, Sarah Love, was equally brilliant. Both teams had numerous chances, including a breakaway by Jackson that Love snuffed in the first period. But just past halfway gone in the same period, Tiger sophomore Sonja Novak dove onto the ice and at full extension got enough stick on the puck to slide it in the side of the goal.
The second period and most of the third was an entertaining display of well-played hockey with sterling defensive work and more outstanding saves by both goalies. During one Yale power play, Love knocked the puck away on a shorthanded Princeton 2-on-1. Yale zipped back with a 3-on-1, but he resulting shot settled harmlessly in Gaudiel’s glove.
Princeton still clung to the 1-0 lead, until Jackson put the game away in the third.
“I was nervous the whole game,” Jackson said. “I found myself freezing up a lot. Everyone was pretty nervous, especially the first two periods. And then in the third period I think everyone realized what was on the line, and we got psyched.”
In the final minutes, Love was pulled and Yale had an extra skater, but they could not solve Gaudiel.
“This is a good team we played today,” Yale coach Hilary Witt said. “They’re sixth in the nation and they’re number two in our league, what are you going to do? The kids played hard, you can’t ask much more than that.”
“We kept it in the zone,” Witt added. “But what we don’t do very often is shoot, and you gotta shoot to score.”
The game was played on Senior Day, and five seniors, including Jackson and Gaudiel, were honored before the action. The others graduating are Sarah Butsch, Tarah Clark, and Chrissie Norwich. This class has had more wins than any other in Princeton history.
“All year it’s been easy for me as a coach,” Kampersal said. “We have five seniors who lead by example, make our job easier, and they basically run the show.”
When asked if this was his best class in his ten years as Princeton coach, Kampersal said, “I think there’s been more talented ones, but this one, by far and away, has had the most heart and cohesiveness. These kids really get it.”
Next for both teams are the ECAC quarterfinals on Friday. Princeton will host Colgate, while Yale will travel to St. Lawrence. Both games are at 7 p.m.