Liberty Hockey Invitational Gets Off To Interesting Start

Colton Phinney was officially credited with 45 saves in an outstanding performance in the first round of the Liberty Hockey Invitational (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Colton Phinney was officially credited with 45 saves in an outstanding performance in the first round of the Liberty Hockey Invitational (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

NEWARK — If you weren’t there — and based on the attendance, this applies to just about everyone — it would be somewhat easy to look at Princeton’s 2-2 tie against Yale (in which they lost in a shootout to determine who advanced to the finals on Sunday) and wonder if this team really did get better.  They allowed 47 shots on goal in 65 minutes, and were only able to generate two goals on a team that defeated them in all three meetings last year.

But, here’s the thing.  If you watched, you saw improvement.  Lots of it.  Special teams, as a whole, looked a lot better.  That letdown that always seemed to happen after they gave up one goal?  It didn’t happen.  For sophomore goaltender Colton Phinney, who was brilliant at times in making 45 saves, the change was very apparent.

“I think we’re definitely buying in more,” Phinney told The Trentonian.  “Everybody wants to be here, everybody wants to play.  And we’re making plays, we’re not kind of just dumping it in.  We’re playing more offensive and kind of just going, and it’s working better…I think (it’s a systems thing) for sure; systems and the coaching.  Everybody’s energetic, everybody wants to be here.  It adds to it.”

New head coach Ron Fogarty, who replaced the affable Bob Prier, was pleased with what he saw in his debut as the team’s bench boss.

“I loved it,” he said.  “I loved the ‘bend, don’t break’ in the second period.  Yale came at us extremely well, and we knew that.  There’s not a lot of familiarity with our systems for our guys, and I’m extremely proud of them.”

However, they’ll be relegated to the consolation game at 1 PM on Sunday against Merrimack after a shootout defeat.  It’s safe to say that teams in the ECAC don’t practice the skills competition too often.  Well, sort of…

“It’s not technically shootouts, but we do ‘Reverse Donkey,’ which is if you score, you’re out,” he explained.  “If you don’t score, you keep going.  It’s a little different, but I guess it’s still kind of like a shootout.”

***

In the first game, UConn got past Merrimack in the shootout, and will play Yale in the championship game.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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