SCHENECTADY — Just 24 hours after completing a memorable upset in game one of the ECAC quarterfinal series, the Princeton Tigers (17-12-4) scored a very late goal to defeat the 16th-ranked Union Dutchmen (21-15-2) yet again and move on to the semifinals. Princeton’s hero? That would be none other than senior David Hallisey, who came up clutch with under ten seconds remaining in a huge game.
Hallisey did not play in Friday night’s game and was actually on crutches up until Saturday morning. It was unknown whether or not Hillisey would suit up throughout the day, and not many could have predicted him to have such an immense impact on the outcome of the game.
“I told [coach Ron Fogarty] this morning that there was no way I’d be playing” Hallisey said of his injury. Hallisey not only played, but was also had the most important goal of his college career so far.
The Tigers outplayed the Dutchmen by a wide margin throughout the first period, as they were possessing the puck and getting shots off at a much higher rate. Just 13 minutes into the game, Princeton had already registered nine shots on goal while Union only had two. The Tigers continued to play well, as 14:44 into the period Alex Riche was able to put his team on the board for his sixth goal of the season.
A few minutes later, Union’s Sebastian Vidmar and Princeton’s Eric Robinson had to be separated by the referees and both were sent to the penalty box for roughing. Not much occurred with the ice opened up on the four on four, until Hallisey was sent to the box as well for a holding call in the neutral zone. This gave Union a power-play opportunity, the first of the night for either team. However, it would not be the Dutchmen who took advantage of the opportunity, as Robinson scored just 31 seconds after leaving the box for his previous offense.
Heading into the second period, Princeton looked like the clear better team as they had doubled Union in shots on goal and held a two goal lead. However, Union changed this with their backs to the wall and played pretty well in the second.
To sum it up, Union dominated the entire second period. They had 15 shots on goal while Princeton had just four, even with spending seven minutes of the period down a man. Luc Brown was given a five minute major and game misconduct for a check from behind, but the Dutchmen were able to phenomenally execute their penalty kill. These shots had also resulted in two critical goals, as Anthony Rinaldi sniped a power-play goal at 7:53 elapsed time after an Alex Riche penalty and Ryan Walker tied it up just about a minute later.
“We just played better overall,” Union captain Ryan Scarfo said of his team’s performance in the second period. “Those goals gave us some life, the crowd got a little more into it. It was just a combination of things but overall it was good”.
Union even appeared to take the lead with only 53 seconds left in the period. Forward Sebastian Vidmar scooped up a rebound right in front of the net and shot the puck, and the initial call was a goal. However, upon further review the goal was called back as the officials stated that the puck never actually crossed the goal line, disappointing the home crowd at the Messa Rink.
Just a minute into the third period, Union sophomore Vas Kolias had a great chance in front of the net, but Princeton junior Josh Teves had a critical poke check to break up the potential scoring chance.
“Josh is a highly underrated defenseman in this conference” Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty said after the game. “He’s the quarterback of our defense and a leader of our team”.
Union continued to get more chances and outshoot Princeton during the third period, but the Tigers stayed resilient and didn’t give in. Princeton freshman Ryan Ferland, who would go on to finish with 29 saves and only two goals allowed, played particularly well in the period as he saved ten shots and did not concede once.
In the last few minutes of the game, Union was still possessing the puck more than Princeton was. However, the Tigers’ defensive unit was blocking shots and Ferland saved everything that actually reached the net. As time was winding down, it appeared that the game would enter an overtime as the first regular season meeting between the teams had as well. However, the Tigers had other ideas.
Eric Robinson gained possession of the puck in the defensive zone, where he would give the puck to Teves. Teves then took a shot as Princeton had a three on one, but Kupsky was able to deflect it away. David Hallisey came skating in and tapped the puck just past a diving Jake Kupsky to win the game for the Tigers and bring them to the ECAC semifinals next weekend in Lake Placid.
“It was an offensive zone turnover and we pinched,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said about the game winner. “It got by us, and they had a three on one. I mean, it was a three on one with not much time left. Vas [Kolias] did a great job of taking it away. He took two guys away so all they had was the short side. Jake made a nice save but we didn’t funnel to the net properly, their guy gets to the net and it’s game over”.
When asked about Union’s playoff defeat of Princeton last year, Bennett said, “They were pretty hungry. Sometimes you need to lose in order to win, and we know that here”.
This loss all but marks the end to a season that was all in all solid for Union, even though it didn’t end the way they wanted it to. After two huge upset victories in the quarterfinal, Princeton advances to the semifinals on March 16, where they will be taking on 2nd-ranked Cornell where they will need to pull out an even bigger upset.