NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Be it injuries or two separate blown third quarter leads Saturday night, Princeton overcame plenty this weekend.
The Tigers just couldn’t get past Antoine Laganiere.
The Yale junior posted his first collegiate hat trick to lead the Bulldogs to a 7-3 win over the Tigers in the deciding game of the opening round of the ECAC playoffs Sunday night at Ingalls Rink.
Anthony Day added a career-high two goals for Yale, which will travel to No. 3 Harvard Friday at 7 p.m. for the conference quarterfinals. Andrew Calof scored twice for Princeton, which only dressed 11 forwards and five defenders for the weekend.
However, they hung in against a suddenly-hot Bulldogs team, losing 4-2 with an empty-net goal Friday and overcoming two Yale third period rallies to win 5-4 in overtime Saturday.
The Bulldogs made several line changes for Sunday’s game, and started Jeff Malcolm in net after Nick Maricic drew the start in the first two games of the series.
“It was a team victory tonight,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “I wanted to play four lines and all the lines equal so we didn’t have to worry about matchups. As for changing our goalie, guys in the league aren’t used to playing three games in a weekend, and it’s hard to ask them to do.”
Up 1-0 on Day’s goal at 4:52 in opening period, Yale pounced on a Tigers’ turnover while short-handed.
Laganiere broke away with Jesse Root on the rush, cutting to the right post and backhanding a shot past Sean Bonar (35 saves) to make it 2-0 at 7:55.
“That was the biggest goal of the game, no question about it,” Princeton coach Bob Prier said.
“They had a guy right in front of the net and tried to pass it to him and Gus Young got a stick on it and tried to clear it,” Laganiere said. “It came out to me and I sort of held back on the play then just went to the line and took a shot.”
Laganiere added another at 12:10 in the second. With the Bulldogs’ power play ticking to an end, he took a Kevin Limbert pass and threw it on net from the goal line.
“I was basically just looking to pass it off the goalie’s pads,” Laganiere said. The puck trickled past Bonar to make it 4-1.
His third was a power-play tally at 16:53, pushing the lead to 5-2 after Calouf scored under a minute earlier.
Michael Sdao’s blast from just inside the blue line made it 5-3 56 seconds into the third, but Brian O’Neill added an empty-netter at 17:46, beating a Tigers defender to the puck and diving to poke it on net from the right wing.
Clinton Bourbonais capped the scoring with a power-play goal at 18:50.
There were a combined 22 penalties and 15 power plays in the game, with Princeton going one-of-eight and Yale two-for-seven on the man advantage. Sdao and Young were handed 10-minute misconducts for roughing after the whistle at 18:02 in the third as emotions ran high.
“I thought we were maintaining good momentum five-on-five,” Allain said. “The penalties made it much more difficult to gain that momentum.”
Day’s second of the opening period made it 3-0 at 10:23, but Princeton answered when Calof glided into the low slot and beat Malcolm (27 saves) to make 3-1 at 16:13.
Yale travels to Harvard after splitting the season series 1-1. Princeton ends with an overall record of 9-16-7.
“We were a couple guys short and had a couple forwards on ‘D,’ but at the end of the days it’s hockey,” Prier said. “It’s not an excuse in any way. I’m proud of the way our guys played. They were out of their comfort zone a little bit, but they did a good job.”