In last year’s ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, the Princeton University women’s hockey team battled Quinnipiac tooth and nail but couldn’t overcome the Bobcats.
The Tigers fell 2-1 and 2-0 to get swept in the best-of-three series. Princeton was tied at 1-1 heading into the last five seconds of game one and the second game was a 1-0 contest until the Bobcats scored with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Last weekend, Princeton got to spend another weekend with Quinnipiac as the teams played a home-and-home set in the last action before the upcoming holidays.
In an unfortunate case of deja vu, the Tigers dropped two tight contests, falling 1-0 at Baker Rink on Friday and 3-0 a day later in Hamden, Conn.
Reflecting on Friday’s loss, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged he could provide little solace to his disappointed players.
“Our kids played well for a majority of the game,” said Kampersal, whose team is now 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play.
“There is nothing I can really say to make them feel better. They played really hard. They played with a lot of heart. That is all we can really ask of them. We still need to execute better in front of the net.”
Kampersal will be depending on his senior line of Paula Romanchuk, Danielle DiCesare, and Heather Landry to help the Tigers find the back of the net.
“They had a lot of oomph tonight,” said Kampersal. “They have played together on and off here for the last four years. Down the stretch, we are going to rely on them.”
The Tiger defense has proven to be reliable. “The defense was solid, their goal was actually a deflection,” said Kampersal, whose team is giving up 2.3 goals a game.
Freshmen Brianne Mahoney and Ali Pankowski have certainly solidified things along the blue line for Princeton.
“Brianne has good vision and was really good last weekend,” added Kampersal.
“She has good vision; there was a play at the end where she fed it back door and our kid couldn’t corral it but it was a perfect play. Pankowski has a presence out there; she is a big, strong kid and she can deliver the puck to the open net pretty well.”
A big issue for the Tigers so far this season has been a propensity for landing in the penalty box.
“We have got a small bench and it does wear you down,” said Kampersal, whose team took five penalties on Friday and then got hit with four penalties the next day.
“You would really like your power play kids to be your power play kids and your killers to be your killers but sometimes we have our power play kids as our penalty killer kids and that doesn’t bode well.”
When the team returns to action after the holiday break, it will need to show a killer instinct in order to get back on the right track.
“It is a mental thing for us,” said Kampersal, whose team isn’t in action again until it plays a two-game set at Ohio State on December 30 and 31.
“We have to be mentally tough. Physically, we are fine. But we have to be mentally tough no matter what; whether we are up or we are down. We are fighting for all the points we can get, for sure.”