ALBANY, N.Y. — Colin Greening’s goal at 9:54 of the second overtime lifted Cornell to a 4-3 victory over Princeton and a berth in the ECAC
The junior captain wristed home a shot in the high slot past goaltender Zane Kalemba for the right to face Yale for the tournament title.
“The puck came out to Seminoff, and one of their guys got a piece of his shot, and the puck came out to Mugford, who made a great play to slide it to me; I went around the guy and just tried to shoot it as hard as I could,” said Greening.
The win, however, would not have been possible without Riley Nash’s extra-attacker goal with just 24.5 seconds left in regulation to rob the Tigers of what seemed like a sure victory.
Nash, who was whistled for a pair of penalties earlier in the game, one of which led to a Princeton power-play goal, redeemed himself in the final minute of the game by burying a loose puck amidst a scrum in front of Tigers’ goaltender Zane Kalemba.
“The puck was under Kalemba for a little bit and it kind of squirted out,” said Nash. “Their defenseman cross-checked Barlow into Kalemba and the puck squirted out, and I just hit it as hard as I could and it went in.”
Kalemba fired out of his crease in protest after the goal, feeling as though he had been interfered with by Evan Barlow after originally stopping the puck, but the replay clearly indicated that Barlow was pushed into the crease, and eventually Kalemba, by a Princeton defender.
“From my perspective I thought I had it covered, but I guess I didn’t,” said Kalemba.
Nash’s goal put an exclamation point on a Big Red comeback in the final two minutes of the third period. After what had been a six-minute skate-around following Cam MacIntyre’s goal at 11:09, Cornell sprung to action on the strength of a terrific individual effort by Barlow.
“We had shifted him back to play defense at the time, and he had an end-to-end rush that won’t be on Sportscenter with all the basketball, but it was just a tremendous play by him,” said Cornell coach Mike Schafer. “That was the turning point of the game, for him to come down and make the great individual effort. That was what sparked us.”
The senior forward from Strathmore, Alberta raced down the right boards, beat his Princeton mark around the corner, and darted across the goalmouth, lifting a shot over a sprawling Kalemba to make it 3-2 with 2:52 left to play.
Cornell’s late heroics erased a lead built on hard work and determination by Princeton, which was willing get the puck deep and go into the corners to battle a bigger, more physical Cornell squad.
“Cornell’s a tough team and they take the body, and I thought we responded well; I was proud of how the guys played,” said MacIntyre.
MacIntyre was the proverbial straw stirring the drink for the Tigers. He had a hand in all three goals, slipping an innocent, unassisted goal past Scrivens at 11:09 of the third period after assisting on the first two goals of the game.
“It’s well-documented what he’s had to go through this year, and for him to be playing is a tremendous credit to him and how he feels about his team, but for him to have the performance that he did tonight, it shows that he’s a tremendous athlete with a tremendous heart,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky.
“Cam MacIntyre had a great goal to make it 3-1 to take the wind out of our sails; I don’t know how he got it in the short side,” said Schafer.
The junior forward was an instrumental part of the Tigers’ success in 2007-08, but he has missed all but 11 games this season due to injury. He most recently returned to action in the deciding game of Princeton’s series with Union.
Princeton’s Zane Kalemba was outstanding in the loss, stopping 39 of 43, including several huge saves in extra time. Unfortunately, Kalemba and the Tigers’ effort came up just short tonight.
“We created a lot of offense, but we just couldn’t get the puck past Kalemba,” said Schafer.
Ben Scrivens didn’t make the outstanding saves, but he made all the saves needed to keep Cornell alive when it mattered most. The junior goaltender finished with 37 saves on 40 shots.
“The guys did a great job in front of me,” said Scrivens. “They minimized the amount of quality chances. By the end of overtime, Princeton was putting a lot of long shots on me, playing for a rebound or a lucky bounce. I got lucky; these guys bailed me out tonight.”
With the loss, Princeton and St. Lawrence will face off in a third place game at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday with serious NCAA Tournament implications.
“Fortunately, I don’t have to do a thing to get the team ready to play tomorrow,” said Gadowsky.. “The leadership that we have in this room takes care of it and they have all year.”
Cornell will meet Yale in the 7:00 p.m. nightcap with the ECAC Championship on the line.
“Now we have to refuel and re-hydrate and get ready for a great game against Yale,” said Schafer.