Tigers Proud to Move On Despite Disappointing Weekend
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ALBANY, N.Y. The irony was not lost on Princeton. After having gone 2 1/2 years without a tie game, the Tigers got one at the same time it needed it to receive an NCAA tournament bid.
Becausee of the machinations of the Pairwise, Princeton only needed to tie St. Lawrence in the ECAC consolation game to get its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAAs. And Princeton's staff was savvy to those machinations. So about 17 hours after a grueling double OT loss to Cornell in the semifinal, the Tigers grinded out the tie in the third period and a five-minute OT.
"There are few times I would admit that. But there are times you know it's a battle, the guys are tired, and you just hope to hold on," Gadowsky said.
"The thing that impressed me most about the entire team was their resiliency. They found a way to block a shot, even if they knew they were going to get hit. They found a way to protect the net."
A meaningless shootout was played, which St. Lawrence won, so technically Princeton finished fourth in the tournament.
"It definitely feels better than I thought a fourth-place finish would feel in this tournament," Bartlett said.
Gadowsky had to coax his team to the finish line. After an icing in the second period, his team was gassed, but couldn't change lines. So he called an early time out.
"We got caught out long. And not only the centerman was very tired, but both wingers were very tired. And I felt that if they won the draw, they'd be at a huge advantage, and I didn't want to take that chance."
The only two goals of the game for Princeton were scored by Dan Bartlett, who also scored Friday, and lit it up against Union a week earlier.
"It's unbelievable what he's doing right now," Gadowsky said, "and it's pretty darned entertaining. These aren't tip-ins. It seems like every game he has to challenge himself to up a prettier goal. I give him all the credit in the world."
St. Lawrence scored in the third to tie it, but in overtime, Princeton was able to hem the Saints deep in their zone most of the time. St. Lawrence, needing a win to make the NCAAs, tried to pull the goalie, but was only able to do so for a few seconds over the last couple minutes of OT.
"We're really excited about continuing our season," said forward Sam Skaby. "We didn't want it to end. We've had great success and we think we can do more. Princeton has never won a game in the tournament, and we want to make history."
Princeton will be a No. 3 seed, most likely at one of the Western regionals. So no one was hanging their heads despite technically coming up empty here.
"We set a record for wins in our program last year, we eclipsed that this year. We would love to win the ECAC championship, we really would, but I consider it a tremendous accolade to go to the (NCAA) tournament," Gadowsky said.
"Last year, we got to the tournament, and I think we might have been a little content to get to the tournament because we'd never been there," Skaby said. "But this year, seeing the competition, this year we're a little more prepared. Going into the year, we knew if we got there we could do some damage. So hopefully we'll have a good week of practice, and play well wherever we wind up."