PRINCETON, N.J. — With home ice in the first round of the ECAC Tournament on the line, and on Senior Day to boot, Princeton came up with one of its best efforts of the season this afternoon in a 7-3 victory over Brown before 2,241 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
The win, coupled with Harvard’s 4-3 loss at St. Lawrence tonight, gave Princeton (12-14-3, 8-12-2 ECAC) the eighth and final home spot in the first round of the league playoffs that will take place March 5-7. The Tigers will host Harvard in a best-of-three opening series.
Brown (8-17-4, 6-12-4 ECAC), which had also been in the running for home ice, will instead be on the road next weekend at Rensselaer.
Mark Magnowski paced the Princeton effort with two goals and two assists to extend his point-scoring streak to seven games, while Matt Arhontas contributed a goal and two assists. Zane Kalemba had 20 saves for the Tigers, who went two-for-three on the power play and outshot Brown by a 53-23 overall margin. Jack Maclellan and Aaron Volpatti each had a goal and an assist for the visiting Bears, who also got 46 saves from Mike Clemente.
Less than 24 hours after surrendering a three-goal lead in a 7-4 loss to league-leading Yale, the Tigers again got things rolling early. Arhontas opened the scoring just 1:18 into the contest when he redirected a cross-ice feed from Magnowski.
“We focused on doing a better job of winning the one-on-one battles, and I think we did,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. “We had the puck more, and we made a vast improvement from yesterday.”
“Last night we let it slip away,” said Magnowski. “Today we wanted to go out on top and give it our all.”
The opening goal held up until early in the second period, when Magnowski and Arhontas struck again. Michael Sdao carried the puck down the left side of the Brown zone and fed Arhontas, who in turn got the puck over to Magnowski to the left of Clemente. Magnowski’s first shot was stopped, but he then calmly slid home the rebound at 1:33 for his eighth goal of the year.
“Sdao carried it in and made a nice play, and Arhontas got hit as he fed it to me,” said Magnowski. “I didn’t know how much time I had, but I took a shot and it came back to me, and I put it under his glove.”
The Tigers then took a 3-0 advantage at 5:22 when Taylor Fedun’s slap shot from the top of the left circle on a power play seemed to carom off Clemente’s mask and in. Will MacDonald then made it a four-goal lead at 9:29 off of a scramble in the slot.
“Everybody gave 100 percent,” said Magnowski. “Everybody did as much as they could.”
“They played tremendous hockey,” said Brown coach Brendan Whittet. “They won a lot of foot races, and played like a Guy Gadowsky team we’ve seen consistently. They were all over us from the get-go.”
The visiting Bears got on the board soon after, with Jesse Fratkin putting home Maclellan’s backhand feed in front at 10:48. Following a time-out, Brown then got within two when Maclellan scored from the top of the left circle at 13:18 for his 12th goal of the season.
The scoring stopped until the second half of the third period, when Marc Hagel tipped home a shot by Derrick Pallis at 11:13 for his third goal in three games, and fifth of the year. Pallis made it 6-2 at 14:29 when he sent the puck down the ice and into an empty Brown net, with Clemente having been pulled for an extra attacker on a power play.
“When they got that fifth goal, it looked like we ran out of gas a little bit,” said Whittet. “It’s part and parcel with injuries and how our team is constructed. We go to the well with certain guys, but I think we just ran out of gas.”
The teams then traded power-play goals to close out the scoring, with Volpatti connecting at 14:58 for his 11th goal, and Magnowski putting home a pass from Arhontas at the left post at 16:25.
“That goal came off a scramble in the neutral zone,” said Magnowski. “Mike Kramer chipped it to Arhontas, who made a really nice saucer pass to me, and I one-timed it through the five-hole.”
“It was a great game by Magnowski, and (defenseman) Brad Schroeder was unbelievable,” said Gadowsky. “Everybody played well, but those two guys were tremendous.
“We did what we had to do. Today’s game was) really all they could control, and they did it.”
Now it’s on to the playoffs, where Princeton’s Class of 2010, the winningest in the program’s history, will have one final weekend at home.
“We’ll be ready,” said Magnowski, a member of the senior class. “I think we’ll be trouble for whoever we play, and we’ll play hard.”
The same goes for Brown and its post-season intentions.
“It’s a new season,” said Whittet, who praised his team for the strides they made this year, his first behind his alma mater’s bench. “We’re excited, and we’ll go on the road and battle as hard as we can.”