Seton Hall Holds Off Princeton in CSCHC Quarterfinal
In what proved to be the final chapter of the 2014-2015 season, the Tigers geared up for a playoff matchup against Seton Hall. The two teams split the regular season series, each winning at home. At the start of the first period, Princeton jumped on the opposition. Several early scoring chances proved fruitless, but the Tigers gained a powerplay three minutes in. Although the Tigers failed to convert on the man advantage, they held the puck in the zone at even strength. Princeton struck first when Captain Matt Kelly picked up the puck at the half wall, danced across the circle and roofed a wrist shot top shelf for the 1-0 lead. Under a minute after the opening goal, Seton Hall gained a powerplay of its own. After the Tigers had killed off a minute and a half, Seton Hall set up in the offensive zone, moved the puck to the hash marks and scored with traffic in front of the net: 1-1. Inspired by their tying goal, Seton Hall ramped up its energy and soon gained the zone on an odd man rush. One pass and one deke put the Pirates ahead 2-1. The very next minute the Pirates brought the puck in with speed. The leading forward curled around the net and fed his streaking linemate in the slot who buried the goal. Just like that it was 3-1. The Tigers were knocking on the doorstep for the rest of the period, putting 10 more shots on goal, but were unable to pull closer.
The second period began with Princeton eager to get back in the game. And it didn't take long for the Tiger offense to do just that. Ben Sorkin picked up the puck in the neutral zone and beat the defenseman wide with speed. He then made a perfect pass to Alex Vukasin on the back door who, for the 22nd time of the season, found the twine. Before they could blink, the Pirates' lead had been cut in half. Princeton pressed for the tying goal, and held momentum for the next five minutes. At the end of a long shift in the offensive zone, Seton Hall flipped the puck out of trouble. A Seton Hall forward won the race to the puck and, after gaining the zone, took a shot through the defenseman's legs that rang off the post and in to extend the lead to 2 once again. 4 minutes later, Princeton fell victim to the flip pass once again. This time the play resulted in a breakaway for Seton Hall, and the foreward beat Graham Turk on the glove side. Princeton was now in a 3-goal hole and desperate for a spark. But the Seton Hall goaltender refused to yield, making one sprawling save after another. The score remained 5-2 in favor of Seton Hall when the buzzer sounded.
The third period opened up with more flurries down near the Seton Hall net. Some shots were blocked, others deflected, and it seemed that the puck went everywhere edcept the back of the net. Princeton went on the powerplay twice in the opening half of the period but could not score. After fending off some Seton Hall chances, the Tigers gained their third man advantage of the period. This time they finally broke through. Sophomore Connor Grogan fed Alex Vukasin in the slot, who beat a screened Seton Hall netminder under the arm for his 23rd in as many games. With six minutes left to play, Princeton made one final push to even the game. With sustained pressure in the offensive zone and plenty of high-quality chances, it felt Princeton had a shot to come back. The Seton Hall netminder killed any such hope, continuing his stellar play and closing the door on all Tiger attempts. As the buzzer sounded, Princeton felt the disappointment of an early exit from the inaugural CSCHC playoffs. However, as the players exited the ice for the last time this year, they looked back on a season filled with hard work, happy memories, and great hockey.
Some notes for the season: Alex Vukasin tied Brooks Hallin's single season scoring record (in the statkeeping era) at 47 points. Freshman Dennis Guo led the team in games played, skating in all 24 games. Antoine Crepin-Heroux led the team with 26 goals, which now stands as the single season goal record in the statkeeping era.