When the Princeton women's hockey team left Hobey Baker Rink Friday night, it had to feel more like it had just played a game that began in 2006, rather than it was less than 48 hours away from ending a streak that began in 2006.
Stephanie Neatby made 28 saves and Molly Contini and Sylvie Wallin scored goals 2:04 apart late in the first period to lead Princeton to a 2-1 win over Quinnipiac on Sunday afternoon in the deciding game of the best-of-three ECAC opening round playoff series.
Princeton Wins! Princeton Wins! The Tigers are headed to the ECAC Championships in Potsdam!— Princeton WHockey (@PWIH) February 26, 2017
With the win, Princeton advances to the ECAC semifinals to take on top-seeded Clarkson on Friday at Clarkson. St. Lawrence and Cornell will meet in the other semifinal.
It also marks the first time since the 2005-06 season that Princeton has made its way past the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs. Even a year ago, when Princeton received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, Princeton lost its ECAC quarterfinal series to St. Lawrence in three games.
Advancing must have seemed like a huge hill to climb way back on Friday night, when Quinnipiac won Game 1 of this series in three overtimes. Seemingly spent emotionally and physically, Princeton instead won Game 2 2-0 and then was in control for much of Game 3 en route to the win.
Contini and Wallin got Princeton all the offense it would need, and then Neatby did the rest. The freshman goaltender came within 13 seconds of a second-straight shut out, as Quinnipiac scored with the empty net with those 13 seconds left in the third — three seconds after calling a timeout — to make it somewhat interesting. The puck made it back into the Princeton zone after the face-off, but Quinnipiac wouldn't get a good scoring chance as time expired.
For the series, Neatby made 117 saves while allowing just four goals, three of which came in the marathon Game 1.
Contini's goal, on a power-play, came with 4:54 left in the first period and was assisted by Kelsey Koelzer and Karlie Lund. For Koelzer, it gave her 100 career points, on 39 goals and 61 assists, and made her the third Princeton defenseman ever to reach the 100-point mark in a career.
On that first goal Kelsey Koelzer reached her 100th career point! She is just the 3rd defender in school history to get 100! pic.twitter.com/n151bQFTGq— Princeton WHockey (@PWIH) February 26, 2017
Wallin, a freshman, then wristed a shot past Sydney Rossman, who was outstanding all series in goal for the Bobcats as well, to make it 2-0.