For the second straight game, eighth-ranked Union found itself trailing by two goals heading into the third period.
Friday night against Quinnipiac, there was a sense that the Dutchmen wouldn’t come back, and that proved to be the case in a 4-0 loss.
But there was a different feeling for the Dutchmen’s ECAC Hockey matchup with Princeton on Saturday at Messa Rink. Union was down, 4-2, after two.
“It was like we knew we were going to come back,” Dutchmen defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We were up. We were ready to go. We knew what he had to do.”
The Dutchmen rallied from the two-goal deficit and earned a 4-4 tie with the Tigers, thanks to late third-period goals by Gostisbehere and Daniel Carr.
It could have been a disastrous weekend for the two-time defending ECACH regular-season champions to get swept at home by ECACH opponents. Instead, the Dutchmen (3-2-1 ECACH, 8-3-2 overall) could, at least, feel good about getting one point from the weekend.
“The big focus was on what we needed to do to come back,” Carr said. “We talked about heart all day. I think we showed the heart that we have on this team to come back like that. It was a good learning experience at how hard points are to get in this league. We need to learn from that, and we know we need to play 60 minutes instead of the 30 to 35 we put together tonight.”
The Tigers (2-1-3, 3-4-3) overcame a 2-1 first-period deficit by getting goals from Eric Carlson, Will MacDonald and Tom Kroshus in the second period and chased starting goalie Colin Stevens from the game. It looked like the Dutchmen were headed for a third straight ECACH loss.
But Union coach Rick Bennett never saw despair in his team.
“The mood was excellent tonight in the first, second and third periods,” Bennett said. “They were really focused. It was kind of fun to see.”
The Dutchmen continued to fire puck after puck on Princeton goalie Mike Condon in the third. They finally got the break they were looking for with 7:03 left.
Gostisbehere showed great patience at the right point as the Tigers were scrambling during a four-on-four situation. As the Tigers backed off Gostisbehere, the sophomore defenseman and Philadelphia Flyers prospect fired a wrist shot that beat Condon between the pads.
“I was just looking for a shot to shoot,” Gostisbehere said. “I just shot it through his legs. Thankfully, it went in.”
As the clock wound down late in the third period, Gostisbehere took a pass from Greg Coburn behind the Union net. As Dutchmen goalie Troy Grosenick began the trek to the Union bench so that the Dutchmen could get an extra attacker on, Gostisbehere spotted Carr sneaking behind the Princeton defense at the Tigers’ blue line. Gostisbehere’s stretch pass hit Carr perfectly, sending him in alone on Condon.
Carr waited until Condon opened his pads, and he put a backhander between them with 1:14 to go to tie the score.
“There’s no better feeling than that, knowing your going in one-on-one with the goalie,” Carr said. “You try to open him up five hole and see how it works out.”
Gostisbehere’s patience on his goal and his accurate passing to set up Carr’s tally just showed why he could be playing for the Flyers in the future, and why he could be in Team USA for the World Junior Championships later this month.
“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Bennett said. “That’s the best way I can put it.”
Carr almost won it for the Dutchmen with 23.8 seconds left. He was five feet out in the slot when he fired a wrist shot over Condon’s glove, but the puck clanked off the crossbar. The celebration horn went off, and play was stopped so there could be a video review. The review confirmed the puck hit the crossbar and never entered the net.
Princeton 1 3 0 0 — 4
Union 2 0 2 0 — 4
First Period — 1, Princeton, Maugeri 6 (Calof, Meland), 4:15. 2, Union, Coburn 4 (Gostisbehere, Simpson), 10:07. 3, Union, Jooris 4 (Carr, Boyle), 15:57 (pp). Penalties — Zajac, Pri (high-sticking), 1:41; Sullivan, Uni (tripping), 6:03; Zajac, Pri (elbowing), 10:43; Kroshus, Pri (cross-checking), 15:27; Gostisbehere, Uni (hooking), 16:36.
Second Period — 4, Princeton, Carlson 5 (Ave, Kroshus), 1:09. 5, Princeton, MacDonald 1 (Kesselman), 3:44. 6, Princeton, Kroshus 1 (Calof, Goodwin), 12:23. Penalties — Jooris, Uni (slashing), 7:01; Goodwin, Pri (boarding), 7:16.
Third Period — 7, Union, Gostisbehere 5 (K. Bodie, Simpson), 12:57. 8, Union, Carr 5 (Gostisbehere, Coburn), 18:46. Penalties — MacDonald, Pri (holding), 12:00; Wilkins, Uni (holding), 12:00.
Overtime — None. Penalties — None.
Shots on Goal — Princeton 9-10-4-3 — 26. Union 15-10-15-2 — 42.
Power-play opportunities — Princeton 0 of 3; Union 1 of 4.
Goalies — Princeton, Condon 3-4-3 (42 shots-38 saves). Union, Stevens (18-14), Grosenick 5-2-2 (12:23 second, 8-8).
A — 1,867. T — 2:21.
Referees — Alex Dell, Kevin Graber. Linesmen — Andy Petrus, Mike Emanatian.