Zane Kalemba has his name in the ECAC Hockey tournament record book. And, thanks to him, the Princeton Tigers are heading to the NCAA tournament next weekend.
Kalemba set an ECACH tournament record for consecutive scoreless minutes and was named the most outstanding player and to the all-tournament team, leading the second-seeded Tigers to a 4-1 championship-game victory over third-seeded Harvard Saturday at the Times Union Center.
The 15th-ranked Tigers (21-13), who set a school record for wins in a season, clinched an automatic berth to the NCAAs with their second ECACH title, the first since 1998. The 16-team field will be announced today at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2. The TU Center will host the East Regional Friday and Saturday.
“We haven’t really looked at [the NCAAs],” said defenseman Mike Moore, who had a goal and an assist and was named to the all-tournament team. “We’re enjoying this right now. It was hard fought.”
The sophomore Kalemba’s shutout streak reached 189 minutes, 59 seconds. It broke the record of 181:21, set by Dartmouth’s Dan Yacey in 2004. Kalemba, who had set a single-tournament record Friday against Colgate with his third shutout, lost his bid for a fourth 24 seconds into the third period when Jon Pelle scored to make it 2-1.
Kalemba made 35 saves. He finished the tournament with a 4-1
record, a 1.01 goals-against average and an incredible .967 save percentage. He outplayed Harvard sophomore Kyle Richter, who won the Ken Dryden Award on Thursday as the league’s top goalie.
“Maybe before the game, I felt I had to prove myself [against Richter], and prove to us that we’re the best team in the league,” Kalemba said. “Once the puck was dropped, I didn’t think about the other goalie. It’s definitely nice to beat a team that has goaltending with Richter’s style out there.”
Kalemba’s play left his coach, Guy Gadowsky, in awe.
“Personally, I’ve never seen a performance like that in person,” Gadowsky said. “That’s the best goaltending performance that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of, whether I am on the winning or losing end of it. He’s phenomenal, but not one of our guys are surprised at what he can do, and especially in high-pressured situations. It doesn’t get to him. I don’t know how, but he’s been doing it all year.”
And Kalemba’s performance frustrated the Crimson time and time again.
“He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he really works hard,” said Pelle, who was named to the all-tournament team. “He’s tough to beat. He battles. He never gives up on rebounds.”
Moore gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead 5:04 into the game when he fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Richter.
Landis Stankievech made it 2-0 with 7:26 left in the second on a bad goal. His wrist shot from the left point got underneath Richter’s right arm.
“Mike [Moore] was battling along the boards, and I was just backing him up,” Stankievech said. “The puck kind of squirted back to me, and I looked and there wasn’t really anyone in front of the net. I just kind of threw it at the net. As I watched it go, [teammate] Kevin Lohry was skating toward the net. I thought Richter just caught it, and I thought there was going to be a whistle. Then everybody started screaming, and I thought Lohry must have tipped it.”
Brett Wilson scored a power-play goal late in the third to regain the Tigers’ two-goal lead. Mark Magnowski sealed the win with an empty-net goal.
“It was a fantastic game,” said Gadowsky, the ECACH Coach of the Year. “I’m very happy. I’m most happy, not only with the championship, but the fact that we get to go the rink again Monday is the best part.”
Harvard 0 0 1 — 1
Princeton 1 1 2 — 4
First Period — 1, Princeton, Moore 7 (Hagel, Kushniruk), 5:04. Penalties — Moore, Pri (hooking), 7:27; MacDonald, Har (contact to head-roughing), 18:04.
Second Period — 2, Princeton, Stankievech 7 (Moore), 12:34. Penalties — Rogers, Har (cross-checking), 18:46; Crane, Pri (hooking), 19:28.
Third Period — 3, Harvard, Pelle 14 (Taylor, A. Biega), :24 (pp). 4, Princeton, Wilson 15 (MacIntyre), 16:54 (pp). 5, Princeton, Magnowski 8, 18:22 (en). Penalties — Fedun, Pri (contact to head-elbowing), :15; MacDonald, Har (interference), 3:02; A. Biega, Har (interference), 16:13.
Shots on Goal — Harvard 13-12-11 — 36. Princeton 14-8-6 — 28.
Power-play opportunities — Harvard 1 of 3; Princeton 1 of 4.
Goalies — Harvard, Richter 17-13-4 (27 shots-24 saves). Princeton, Kalemba 19-10-0 (36-35).
A — 4,851. T — 2:25.
Referee — Peter Feola. Assistant referees — Scott Whittemore, Bill Bredin.
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