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STRETCH DRIVE: Princeton University women’s hockey senior forward Marykate Oakley controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, Oakley contributed an assist as Princeton tied Dartmouth 2-2. In upcoming action, Princeton, now 12-9-6 overall and 10-7-3 in ECAC Hockey league play, finishes up the regular season by playing at St. Lawrence on February 22 and at Clarkson on February 23.

Princeton Women’s Hockey Ties Dartmouth, Needs to Sharpen Up as Playoffs Approach

Bill Alden

Perhaps fueled by the emotions from Senior Night, the Princeton University women’s hockey team came out flying last Saturday night against visiting Dartmouth.

Skating circles around the Big Green, the Tigers built a 12-3 edge in shots in the first period.

One of the Princeton seniors, co-captain Lizzie Keady, helped the Tigers get the lead as she assisted on a score by Melanie Wallace.

The Tigers’ other senior co-captain, Marykate Oakley, had a hand in Princeton doubling its lead as she assisted with Sasha Sherry on a second period goal by Annie Greenwood.

But trailing 2-0 heading into the third period, Dartmouth showed some emotion of its own, battling back with two goals, including one with 42 seconds left in regulation, to force overtime.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the five-minute overtime session and the contest ended in a 2-2 stalemate.

The tie was a blow to Princeton as looks forward to the upcoming ECAC Hockey League playoffs.

The Tigers ended the weekend trailing fourth-place Dartmouth by three points and looking at going on the road for the best-of-three ECACHL quarterfinals.

A subdued Keady admitted that she was disappointed by the Tigers’ failure to close the deal against Dartmouth.

“We just want to make sure that we play all 60 minutes,” said Keady, who now has 17 points in her senior campaign. “In general everyone is working hard; we’re starting to all get on the same page.”

Keady admitted that there is a sense of urgency as she heads into the stretch drive of her career.

“Hopefully you try and get up for the games over four years,” said Keady. “Now every game matters more, we are down to the wire.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal liked the sense of urgency his team showed over the weekend as it moved to 12-9-6 overall and 10-7-3 in ECACHL play.

“If we could capture the intensity we had this weekend, we could be pretty dangerous in the next little while and the playoffs,” said Kampersal, whose team battled No. 1 Harvard tooth-and-nail Friday before succumbing 3-1 on two late goals.

“We have two games to go to tune up for the playoffs. We need to play our best and finish the opportunities that we work so hard to give ourselves.”

Kampersal was disappointed that Princeton didn’t take advantage of its chances in the tie with Dartmouth.

“It was frustrating; it was a game of momentum,” said Kampersal, whose team plays at St. Lawrence on February 22 and at Clarkson on February 23.

“I thought we had it in the first period. Then they took it from us in the first 10 minutes of the second period until we scored that 5-on-3 goal. Dartmouth is obviously a good team and they came out and played really strong in the third period.”

In Kampersal’s view, his club needs to have some better execution to go along with its intensity.

“The kids have a lot of heart and soul,” said Kampersal. “I’m proud of their effort for sure. It’s a matter of executing and getting the win rather than the tie.”

If Princeton has to go on the road for the playoffs, Kampersal believes his team’s heart will help them deal with that scenario.

“The kids are tough at home or on the road, it really doesn’t matter,” said Kampersal.

“Sometimes being on the road may be better, you get away and focus. You stay in a hotel and they get their minds off of school for a little while.”

Kampersal is depending on his seniors to show some toughness as they close out their Princeton careers.

“They came in as freshmen and it wasn’t so easy for them from the beginning,” said Kampersal, whose core of seniors includes Brittany Salmon Sonja Novak, and Micol Martinelli in addition to Keady and Oakley.

“They are a resilient crew; they stuck to it and really worked hard. I’m proud of what they have accomplished in their careers.”

Keady, for her part, is looking to add some more accomplishments to her resume.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Keady in reflecting on her Princeton career which has seen her score 77 points and play for the U.S. National Team.

“It’s not over yet, hopefully we can pick it up towards the end. We just need to execute and do the simple things right and take advantage of our opportunities.”

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