Vol. LXIII, No. 12
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
DAN THE MAN: Princeton University mens hockey junior forward Dan Bartlett streaks up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, Bartlett continued his torrid play of late, scoring three goals at the ECAC Hockey championship round. Bartlett scored a goal in Princetons 4-3 overtime loss to Cornell on Friday in the ECACH semis and then added two more a day later as Princeton earned a 2-2 tie with St. Lawrence in the consolation game. He was later named to the All-Tournament team.
With three minutes remaining in regulation last Friday in its ECAC Hockey semifinal clash against Cornell, the Princeton University mens hockey team appeared to be on track to author a stirring sequel to last seasons league title run.
The eighth-ranked Tigers led the No. 7 Big Red 3-1, a seemingly safe advantage with the leagues Player of the Year, junior goalie Zane Kalemba, between the pipes.
But Cornell shocked the Tigers and the crowd of 3,517 on hand at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., scoring twice over the last 2:52 of the contest to force overtime.
Fighting through the shock of losing the lead, the Tigers buzzed all over the ice in first overtime, generating 10 shots and some good scoring chances.
Neither team, though, converted in the first overtime and the marathon stretched into a second session with Cornell coming out on top when Colin Greening beat Kalemba at the 9:54 mark to send the Tigers into the consolation game against St. Lawrence on Saturday.
There was a lot more riding on the game, however, than third place in the ECACH as Princeton needed a win or a tie to ensure a spot in the NCAA tournament field while the Saints needed a win to have a chance to get in the tourney.
Hitting the ice less than 20 hours after its heartbreaking loss to Cornell, the Tigers showed plenty of heart against St. Lawrence, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period and then holding on for a 2-2 tie after regulation and a five-minute overtime period.
On Sunday, Princetons return trip to the NCAAs was confirmed as the Tigers (22-11-1) were sent to the West regional in Minneapolis, Minn. where they drew the No. 3 seed and will play second-seeded Minnesota-Duluth (21-12-8) in the first round on Friday night.
The winner will play the victor of the Denver-Miami of Ohio contest in the regional championship on Sunday for a spot in the Frozen Four in Washington D.C. from April 9-11.
In reflecting on the grueling weekend, Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky was proud of the resilience his team displayed in earning its second straight berth in the national tournament.
We fought hard after giving up a 3-1 lead, we could have been frustrated, said Gadowsky, referring to the Cornell game.
We had chances; Cornell just played a great game and it took a perfect shot to beat us. People are going to look at the tie on Saturday and not think its a big deal but I think that is one of the guttiest efforts we have seen from this team in the last two years. They could have given in to exhaustion and just figured that things werent going to happen.
Junior forward Dan Bartlett made things happen for Princeton as he scored once against Cornell and had both Princeton goals in the tie with St. Lawrence.
I need another adjective for Dan, terrific doesnt describe it, said Gadowsky of Bartlett who has seven goals in the ECACH playoffs and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Hes not catching fire by having things go his way with tap-ins or good bounces. He is making highlight reel goals and he is doing it consistently. He is also playing really good hockey.
The Tigers got some good hockey last weekend from junior forward Cam MacIntyre, who has been hampered by a spine injury all season long.
Cam is such a tough kid; it has been well documented what he has gone through, said Gadowsky of MacIntyre, who tallied his first goal of the season together with two assists in the loss to Cornell.
I dont think he is at full strength so for him just to be playing is pretty special.
It is pretty special for the Tigers to be making a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
We are so happy to be in it, said Gadowsky. To be the first Princeton team to get an at-large bid means a lot. It speaks about what we did all season and showing that we were one of the best teams in the country. It shows last year wasnt a fluke.
Princeton, now ranked No. 10 nationally, will be looking to show something to eighth-ranked Minnesota-Duluth, which rode the hot goaltending of Alex Stalock to the title in the WCHA Frozen Five.
It is a huge challenge, said Gadowsky of the game against the Bulldogs, who have some offensive punch as well with five players scoring 28 points or more on the season.
Right now their goaltender is hot so that is always a concern. But our goaltender is hot and I wouldnt trade Zane for any tender in the country.
The main concern facing Gadowsky and his staff this week is to get the Tigers reenergized after its exhausting weekend up in Albany.
The No. 1 goal is to get them fresh this week, they need to get as much energy as possible, said Gadowsky.
Within 23 hours this weekend, they played the equivalent of three games; that is physically grueling and mentally taxing. We ended a tough three-game series with Union six days earlier.
Having experienced a rough outing at the 2008 NCAA tournament when it lost 5-1 to North Dakota in the opening round, Princeton should be mentally tougher this time around.
I think it helps a lot to have been there before, said Gadowsky. I had no idea of the different distractions. Going through it once, we can now focus more on the game.
While Princeton flew into the 2008 national tournament basking in the glow of the ECACH title, Gadowsky thinks that the consistency shown by the Tigers over the season makes them more of a threat in this years tourney.
I do think we can be a more dangerous team, asserted Gadowsky. We have been exhausted and have overcome some tough situations. We got here on our merit and what we did the whole season. That can give you more confidence than riding a high.
If the Tigers can exude that confidence in Minnesota this weekend, the sequel could have a happier ending than last years story.
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