For the men’s hockey team (2-3-1 overall, 2-1-1 ECAC) this season, the key phrase is team-wide precision. On Friday night against head coach Bob Prier’s alma mater, the Tigers held themselves to that standard as they tied then No. 16 St. Lawrence. Though Princeton fell to a 2-0 deficit midway through the first period, senior defenseman Michael Sdao reminded the crowd in Canton, N.Y., why the Tigers possess the fourth-ranked power-play unit in Division I men’s hockey to date.
“Our focus this year has really been on sound defense and communicating a lot,” sophomore forward Tyler Maugeri said. “Doing that puts us in a position of strength and makes for methodical play. Then we’re able to control the game and play the way we want to play. Bottom line, we never change our game whether we are losing or winning, away or at home.”
Maugeri, for his part, prevailed for Princeton throughout the 60 minutes of play and helped to highlight the team’s resiliency. Most notably, the sophomore right winger successfully took the game-tying shot on the Saints’ netminder Matt Weninger at 11 minutes 40 seconds in the final frame.
“Before my second goal of the game, [junior forward] Andrew Ammon made a nice hit behind the net,” Maugeri said. “We got the puck loose to [junior forward Andrew] Calof. He got it loose to me, and then I finally scored off a rebound.”
Both the Tigers and the Saints failed to score during the final minutes, though each took power-play opportunities within regulation. St. Lawrence took its final power-play opportunity in overtime, but, as a testament to Princeton’s penalty kill, the Saints could not convert with the extra player on ice.
In fact, the Tigers went seven for eight on the penalty kill, allowing just one goal when the Saints opened their lead to 2-0 halfway through the first period.
Conversely, on Saturday night against Clarkson, Princeton did not play precisely to maintain its sound defense while its opponent had the player advantage. In its 7-2 loss, Princeton went two for five on penalty kills, allowing one goal in each period while Clarkson was on the power play.
Moreover, the second period posed a particular challenge to a team that has shown both offensive and defensive prowess early this season. In its first ECAC defeat of the season, Princeton allowed a 6-1 deficit by the end of the second period.
“Yeah, if you ignore the second period against Clarkson, we actually did an acceptable job in limiting Clarkson’s chances and in creating our own,” junior forward and captain Jack Berger said. “But that middle frame is obviously just as important. We took way too many penalties and, to Clarkson’s credit, they capitalized pretty much on every one. Every shot they took was going in, and we normally pride ourselves on preventing that from happening.”
On the offensive end, the Tigers actually dominated the Golden Knights in the first and final periods. Princeton, with 23 shots throughout the entire game, took nine in the first to Clarkson’s seven and nine in the third against the host’s six.
Though senior goalie Mike Condon took the bench after the second frame in exchange for junior netminder Sean Bonar, the senior stopped 13 of 19 shots in the first 40 minutes of play in spite of the Tiger’s self-admitted inability to enhance rather than hinder his control between the pipes over Clarkson.
“Condon’s been playing absolutely unbelievably for us,” Magueri said. “Before this weekend, he had around a 92 save percentage. We didn’t help him block any shots. We got in front of shots but didn’t block them. It was counterproductive because we were screening our own goalie. Sean played really well. He has been sick, so that’s why he hasn’t been playing as much as he did last year. We have two great starting goalies.”
The Tigers will hit the road once again to play Sacred Heart and UMass Lowell on Nov. 23 and 24, hoping to once again prove their depth — as numerous players have put their names in the stat columns — and discipline once again.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/11/21/31903/