MacIntyre, Princeton Ready For One More Challenge
Stunning Loss Means No ECAC Title, But NCAAs on the Line Still
by Zach Wartler/CHN Reporter
ALBANY, N.Y. Princeton’s season has been defined by the way in which it has responded to challenges. The Tigers were dealt a difficult blow early in the season when two of the team’s star forwards, sophomore left wing Kevin Lohry and junior left wing Cam MacIntyre missed significant time due to injury.
When Princeton finally became healthy, the team was forced to deal with game delays due to a broken down bus and a crack in the Hobey Baker Rink ice. Through all these trials, one things remained constant: the Tigers continued to fight, and faced every challenge they encountered with great poise, thanks in large part to the team’s senior leadership.
Now, Princeton faces arguably its greatest challenge to date. After falling to Cornell 4-3 in a double-overtime thriller, allowing two late goals, the Tigers will have to turn around in less than 17 hours to face St. Lawrence. The Saints were one of the hottest teams in the country entering the ECAC semifinals, and also blew a lead late, 4-3 to Yale. Both teams will be fighting for their NCAA tournament lives.
"It's really important for us, and all our guys know that," MacIntyre said about Saturday's consolation game. "We'll be able to put this one away, and show tomorrow."
The Tigers had not played an overtime game since the 2006-2007 season until Friday night’s heartbreaker against Cornell.
“You have to come down from what happened tonight and you have to get ready to go,” Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “In two years, we haven’t played an overtime game. We don’t have a lot of experience to draw from so it’s just a matter of getting it done.”
To win against St. Lawrence, Princeton will need to put together an opportunistic and gutsy performance. Like they have all year, the Tigers will count on their senior leaders to set the tone. An early goal from any of Princeton’s three senior forwards could provide the early boost the Tigers need against the Saints.
“They are extremely high quality guys. They’ve done it all year,” Gadowksy said. “I don’t know what it is about them that makes it that way. But they’ve continued to impress when you think it’s the hardest situation for them.”
Adding to the challenge of coming back from a double overtime loss on less than a full day’s rest, Princeton faces the pressure of needing at least a tie to make it to the NCAA tournament. Yet the Tigers will approach their game against St. Lawrence as they have approached the entire season, focusing on playing tenacious hockey and using an aggressive forecheck to control the tempo of play.
“A hockey game is a hockey game. Hockey games are won in many different ways. You never know what that’s going to be when you enter into a game,” Gadowsky said. “We have to enter into a game regardless of how much time we have, what people are saying about the national standings, we have to play our best hockey game. Our group has been able to do that regardless of tough situations. And that’s how we’re going to approach this game.”
It would help to have a fully healthy Cam MacIntyre, but just having him back at all is a boost. McIntyre missed the early part of the season with bulging discs in his back, then he returned, only to pull a groin muscle. His presence on the fourth line helped Princeton defeat Union in last Sunday's quarterfinal Game 3.
"All season I haven't practiced. I was touching the ice for the first time in the week during warmups. I get some rest with the bye week, and missing the first two games against Union and I was able to get back into practice a couple of days this week," MacIntyre said. "Coach really helped me out with extra ice stuff, just to get my touch back and get extra confidence with the puck. And playing with Dan Bartlett, he's extremely hot right now."
Last year, MacIntyre formed a dynamic line with Brett Wilson and Hobey finalist Lee Jubinville. This year, that line was disrupted by the injury. But now matched with Dan Bartlett and Sam Sabky, there is still time to be heard from.
Hard as it is to believe, MacIntyre's goal Friday was his first of the season. In fact, his line each accounted for one goal.
"I think it's harder not being able to practice with the guys," MacIntyre said. "Being thrown into a line, it's not only tough for me, it's tough for them as well. Wilson and Jubinville are great players, but we're a deep team."
And that will be put to the test again Saturday.