January 18, 2017

Princeton Men’s Hockey Posts 0-1-1 Weekend Highlighted by Phinney Setting Career Saves Mark

FOR THE RECORD: Princeton University men’s hockey goalie Colton Phinney prepares to ward off a shot last Friday as Princeton fell 5-1 to visiting Cornell. Senior goalie Phinney recorded 21 saves in the contest, making history in the process as his fifth stop gave him 2,952 in his career, passing the previous program record of 2,951 set by Ronald Dennis in 1983. A night later, Phinney added to his record total, making 37 saves as Princeton tied Colgate 2-2 as it moved to 7-11-2 overall and 3-9-2 ECAC Hockey. The Tigers are currently on a hiatus for exams and return to action when they face top-ranked Penn State on January 28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Colton Phinney has endured a lot of disappointment in his time with the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

Coming into last weekend, senior goalie Phinney had a career record of 19-68-7.

But as the Princeton program has taken its lumps going through a rebuilding process, Phinney has held the fort, with a career goals against average of 3.20 and a save percentage of .911.

Last Friday against visiting Cornell, Phinney took another loss as the Tigers fell 5-1 but made history in the process as his fifth save of the game gave him 2,952, passing the previous program record of 2,951 set by Ronald Dennis in 1983.

Afterward, a somber Phinney put the record in perspective as he dealt with the disappointment of the loss to the Big Red.

“It feels good, I think it is something that probably down the road I will feel better about,” said Phinney, who made 21 saves on the evening.

“Right now it is kind of tough the way the game went. It is definitely something I will look back on and be pretty proud of.”

The loss to Cornell was made tougher by the fact that the Tigers outshot the Big Red 32-26 and came up empty in five power plays.

“Tonight the bounces went Cornell’s way,” said Phinney. “They got tips that went in and ours stayed out. That is all it really was. All we can do is keep playing hard and it will eventually go our way.”

With Princeton going 7-2 in its last nine games before the holiday break after a 0-6-1 start, picking up three wins over Top 10 teams in that surge, things are starting to go the Tigers’ way.

“You just have to keep working hard,” said Phinney, a 6’1, 175-pound native of Chatham, N.J.

“This year it has been pretty easy; we have shown streaks of us being really good and beating anyone in the country. Taking a look at that and seeing how close the games are and that we have had big wins versus Top 10 teams just shows that we can do stuff. It is pretty easy this year to stay positive.”

Phinney’s positive approach has helped him develop into a record-breaking goalie.

“I am just more mature, more calm; I just know how to deal with the ups and downs,” said Phinney, who displayed that maturity a night later, making 37 saves as Princeton rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Colgate to earn a 2-2 tie and move to 7-11-2 overall and 3-9-2 ECAC Hockey.

“I have seen a lot of these teams and I know the college game better. I just try to be more efficient.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty was honored to see Phinney make history.

“It is a special feat to break a record that has been around for many years,” said Fogarty.

“You never know if that is going to be accomplished again by another goaltender. He deserves it; he has been someone we have leaned on heavily over my three years here. So win or lose, I couldn’t be more proud to be on the bench when he accomplished that record here tonight.”

In Fogarty’s view, Princeton deserved a better fate against the Big Red.

“I thought we played well; we played very well in the second and third periods,” said Fogarty.

“We had some great scoring opportunities; you just have to bear down. Our special teams were defeated tonight; you get four straight power plays and you have got to score on one. You pull the goalie; you have to score on one of those. It didn’t go in tonight.”

With Princeton currently on a hiatus for exams and returning to action when it faces top-ranked Penn State on January 28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Fogarty is looking for his players to stay the course.

“As we said when you are 0-6-1 and when you have seven wins in nine games you can only control your effort and the system,” said Fogarty.

“If the puck goes in, it goes in but you have to put yourself in position for that opportunity.”

Phinney, for his part, believes that Princeton can put itself in position for a big finish when it returns to action.

“At the end of the day, all that matters is what you do in the postseason,” said Phinney.

“I think what is most important is that we keep playing well and things will eventually go our way.”