PRINCETON, N.J. (2/14/14) - Valentine’s Day night didn’t start out as planned for the Princeton women’s hockey team against Brown. The Tigers, trying to keep pace in the standings for home-ice advantage in the ECAC Tournament, found themselves in a scoreless tie at home midway through the second period with a Bears team on the outside looking in on the postseason picture.
But a seven-minute sequence in the second session flowered three goals to change the fortunes of Princeton’s evening for the better. Freshman Kelsey Koelzer, junior Brianna Leahy and senior Denna Laing each scored, while sophomore Kimberly Newell stopped every shot she saw in goal, and the rest was roses for the Tigers on Friday at Hobey Baker Rink.
Brown (4-17-5, 3-13-3) - which entered on its first two-game winning streak of the season - battled Princeton (13-9-4, 9-7-3) to a scoreless opening 20 minutes. The second period seemed to be following a similar script, until penalties brought the Bears to their demise.
A tripping penalty against forward Ariana Rucker at the 10:33-mark of the second and a hooking violation to forward Brittany Moorehead with 11:29 to go in the period gave the Tigers a 5x3 advantage. Though Princeton couldn’t capitalize while up two skaters, the Orange and Black began to take control of the game.
With 9:26 remaining in the middle period and the Tigers on a 5x4 power play, Princeton finally had a goal to show for its momentum. Senior defender Gabie Figueroa received the puck at the point and fed the freshman Koelzer, who ripped a one-timer from the left circle past Brown goaltender Aubree Moore.
Just three-and-a-half minutes later, another Bears penalty led to another Tigers goal. Almost as soon as forward Vanessa Welten stepped into the penalty box for cross-checking, Leahy deposited a pass from Laing into the net for a 2-0 Princeton lead. The Tigers power play, which at one point this season was considered a weakness, had struck again.
Then, with about three minutes remaining in the second period, Koelzer, from behind the net, dished in front for Laing, who put away her team-leading 12th goal of the season to make it 3-0.
Meanwhile, Newell came up with 17 saves for her second shutout of the season and the third of her career. Moore made 25 stops in the loss for Brown.
The win gives Princeton at least one point in six of its last seven games (4-1-2). With three ECAC regular season games remaining, the Tigers sit in sixth place in the 12-team league - two points behind both Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence. The top four teams in the standings skate at home in the best-of-three ECAC Quarterfinals in two weekends.
For now, Princeton keeps its focus on its Senior Day matchup against Yale (7-13-6, 5-8-6). The Tigers host the Bulldogs at Baker Rink on Saturday at 4 p.m., following a ceremony to honor seniors Rose Alleva, Sally Butler, Figueroa, Katie Jones, Laing and Olivia Mucha.