BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Joe Faccone and his Pingry teammates were in desperation mode as the game clock dwindled down to the final seconds.
But it was the junior forward who turned a frantic moment into jubilation when he was able to deflect a point shot that wobbled up and settled into the back of the net with just 5.9 seconds showing to help Pingry rally for a 3-3 tie with Princeton at The Sports Arena in Bridgewater.
Pingry (14-2-1) coach Scott Garrow had called a timeout and pulled goalie Jake Friedman (15 saves) after a Princeton icing with less than a minute to play. With the extra attacker, the Big Blue won the draw and controlled the puck before the shot, initially tipped by Daniel Schack, was redirected again by Faccone with the tip of his blade, slightly changing its direction just enough to secure the equalizer.
“We are a team capable of scoring at any moment,” said Faccone, whose goal was his 20th on the season. “I was in front screening the goalie and hoping for a rebound or deflection. I was just thinking of tipping anything I could get my stick on. We feel like we have guys who have special abilities and I think it showed today. I got piece of it with my blade. It was a double-tip. Dan Schnack tipped it first and I got the second tip.
“Then the puck seemed like it went in slow motion. It tipped off my stick and just rolled up in mid-air and all I could think of was you gotta go in. It was a good bounce for us.”
Garrow called the timeout to settle his club down with the draw in Princeton’s end.
“Coming out of the timeout with your goalie pulled we just told them to be around the net and be hungry,” said Garrow, “and they did a nice job. We told them to not try and hamper their brains out there. We just wanted them to do their thing. We only got three shots on goal in the first period so that was our emphasis in the second and third. We told them we need to get pucks on net. You can’t just skate around the perimeter and be a good team. Joe Faccone was in front and got that tip-in. When you pull your goalie it doesn’t always work out. But today it did.”
It also helped Pingry rebound somewhat from a 3-2 setback it suffered to St. John Vianney in its previous game. After opening the season with 13-straight victories, Pingry was 1-2 in its last three contests.
“We had a lot of success early this season but at this time of year it gets harder and harder to win,” said Pingry junior forward Jack Myers, who assisted on his club’s initial goal by Cal McPherson in the first period that gave his club a 1-0 lead. “Coach Garrow was harping on trying to put pucks on net the whole game and we were finally able to get a couple at the right time in the third period. Princeton is a good team.”
Princeton (11-7-2), which was looking to snap a two-game winless streak, had absorbed a 2-1 loss to Pingry on Dec. 17 after James Cummings scored a power-play goal with 2:58 left to snap the tie.
The Little Tigers appeared ready to secure that victory after Aidan Trainor drove to the net and finished off a fast rush, jamming a puck that just rolled over the goal line with 5:13 remaining in the third period to give his team a 3-2 lead. It was junior forward’s 20th goal this winter. Austin Micale and Calvin Rogers each assisted on the goal.
“We were in a good position at that point,” said Princeton coach Tim Chase. “We came into the third playing the same way we had the first two periods. When we got the lead we wanted to get the puck deep on Pingry and not give up any scoring chances. We had the icing at the end and we had a couple of good chances to get the puck out of our end after the face-off, but we weren’t able to do it. Give Pingry credit in the third period. I thought we played a very solid game overall.”
Pingry jumped on top 1-0 when McPherson deflected in a shot by Myers 4:17 into the first, but the advantage didn’t last long.
Princeton responded just 16 seconds later when Rogers jammed hunted down a loose puck off a scramble in front and made it a 1-1 game.
An errant pass through the middle of the ice in the neutral zone allowed Princeton to counter with a two-on-one and and Micale struck for an unassisted goal with 7:59 left in the first and a 2-1 lead.
Princeton was the quicker team in the first and sent two forwards deep on the forecheck, played disciplined hockey, and outshot Pingry 7-3 after the initial 15 minutes.
“That first period was probably our worst period of hockey we’ve played all year,” Myers said. “But I think with the way we were able to come back really showed our persistence. We bounced back. Anyway you can get it, it was a good tie.”
Pingry was able to bounce back in the second period and tied it at 2-2 with 3:40 remaining. After two impressive saves by Princeton goalie Daniel Prokoshin on attempts from Schnack and Faccone, Fournier snuck a shot through traffic for an unassisted tally.
“We played Princeton earlier in the year and they’re a fast team,” said Garrow. “It was a very similar game. They’re good with their sticks and win puck battles and we struggled with them when we played them in December. We knew what was coming. They’re a great team.”
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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