Zach Currier makes key plays in Princeton's 12-11 win against Harvard
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Somewhere after the record-setting nights from Kip Orban and Mike MacDonald and the coming out party for Tyler Blaisdell, and somewhere before Austin Sims could actually exhale, the fingerprints of Zach Currier were everywhere on a huge win Friday for No. 20 Princeton.
Blaisdell had a career-best 15 saves in his third start and Orban and MacDonald continued their assaults on Princeton's record book, and none of it would have mattered had Currier not done what he did. Added all up, along with a big night from Ryan Ambler, and the result was a 12-11 Princeton win against Harvard in front of 2,204 at Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium.
And Sims? Well, Sims was able to breath once again after Currier made the last of his contributions, ending a final minute that went from comfortable to anything but for the Tigers. More on that in a minute.
First, Princeton is now 4-1 in the Ivy League (and 8-6 overall). The Tigers would clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title should Brown defeat Cornell on Saturday afternoon, and Princeton would win the outright title and host the Ivy tournament with a win against Cornell next Saturday in Ithaca, regadless of what happens in Cornell-Brown. On the other hand, Princeton can still finish as low as third in the league standings.
Harvard fell to 1-4 in the Ivy League with its third one-goal Ivy loss and was eliminated from Ivy tournament contention.
Meanwhile, back at Friday night's game, Princeton led 12-9 when Devin Dwyer scored for the Crimson with 1:52 to go. In what was suddenly a one-goal game, Currier then won the faceoff and helped Princeton take more than a minute off the clock, during which time Harvard committed three slashing penalties.
When play was finally stopped, there were 43 seconds left and Princeton was going to be two-men up with the ball. Except that Sims, a freshman shortstick defensive middie who had played an excellent game, was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, a deadball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at that.
As a result, possession went back to Harvard. Instead of being two men up and easily running out the last 43 seconds, it now belonged to Harvard, who then cashed in with a man-down goal eight seconds later from Tim Edmonds. Suddenly it was a one-goal game with 35 seconds left and another huge faceoff to come.
Currier again took the draw for Princeton. Because Harvard had two men out, faceoff man Michael Keegan had no players on the wings. Because Sims' penalty was non-releaseable, Princeton only had one wing player.
Despite being all by himself, Keegan won the faceoff. But Currier went and took it away from Keegan, and that turnover enabled Princeton to finally run out the clock. And got Sims off the hook.
Currier also dominated the other key moment of the game, the final seconds of the third quarter. Princeton led 10-6 when Edmonds scored with 35 seconds left in the quarter. Princeton had struggled winning faceoffs all night, but Currier then won two in a row and started fastbreaks that led to two Tiger goals eight seconds apart, making it 12-7 at the end of third.
Currier had caused two turnovers, corralled seven ground balls and six faceoff wins in 10 tries. He had an assist to Ambler on the 12th Princeton goal, which proved to the be the game winner.