PRINCETON, N.J. — For the third time in four years, a Union-Princeton game at Hobey Baker Rink went to overtime. The Dutchmen won in 2003-04 and last season.
This time, it was the Tigers’ turn to celebrate.
Brandan Kushniruk beat goalie Justin Mrazek from the slot 2:52 into overtime Friday, giving Princeton a 4-3 ECACHL victory over Union.
The loss, Union’s third straight, overshadowed a third-period comeback by the Dutchmen (1-4 ECACHL, 5-6-2 overall). They scored two goals in 35 seconds to tie the score, 3-3.
And with Union’s recent success against Princeton, not only at Hobey Baker, where they had won four straight, but with wins in the last six meetings with the Tigers, the Dutchmen had every reason to be confident heading into overtime. Plus, Union beat Princeton, 4-3, in overtime Nov. 4 at Messa Rink
“I felt we were going to win the game,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “I don’t think we played well the first 40 minutes, but the last 20, I thought we played well. I thought we were going to steal a game.”
It didn’t happen.
The Tigers (3-5-1, 3-8-2) won a battle for the puck in Union’s left-wing corner. Lee Jubinville got it to Kushniruk, who fired it past Mrazek’s left side.
“We had the puck on our stick a couple of times,” Leaman said. “We couldn’t get it out of our zone.”
Princeton ended a 27-game winless streak (0-13-14) in overtime. Its last win came Nov. 20, 2001, against Yale.
“These guys have worked hard,” Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I’m not just talking about tonight. I’m talking about the last several years.”
After the teams skated to a 1-1 tie in the first period, the Dutchmen got themselves in penalty trouble. They took four straight penalties, and five for the period.
The Tigers scored twice. Mike Moore snapped the tie at 8:24. Brett Wilson made it 3-1 with 6:13 in the second.
“You never know what the refs are going to call,” said Union freshman forward Jason Shaffer, who was serving a clipping penalty when Moore scored. “You just try to play your game. The penalties hurt us in this game.”
The Dutchmen battled back in the third to tie it. First, Jason Walters scored a power-play with a wrist shot from the top of the slot at 12:40. Then, Shaffer crashed the net and pushed a shot from Torren Delforte past goalie Zane Kalemba at 13:15 for his first career goal.
“It’s always tough coming on the road and being down,” Shaffer said. “Our backs were up against the wall. We were fighting back that third period pretty hard.”
Union plays at Quinnipiac Saturday at 7 p.m. The Dutchmen are 0-2 against the Bobcats this season. … Princeton faces RPI at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Dutchmen defenseman Lane Caffaro sat out the game with an undisclosed injury. He is questionable for tonight’s contest. … New Jersey natives Chris Potts and Matt Cook figured in Union’s first goal. Potts scored, and Cook had an assist. Both players were in the starting lineup. … Grant Goeckner-Zoeller had a goal and two assists for the Tigers.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.