Men's Hockey: Ammon dazzles at Sacred Heart
Energized by junior forward Andrew Ammon’s career-high four-goal night and the immense resolve of his teammates, the men’s hockey team (3-4-1 overall, 2-1-1 ECAC) fought back from a two-goal second period deficit to claim a 4-3 victory over Sacred Heart (0-10-2) in Connecticut on Friday night.
Ammon catapulted the Tigers to victory with fewer than eight minutes to play when junior forward Andrew Calof sent the puck to Ammon across the goalmouth and through traffic. Ammon calmly slotted the puck into the nearly open net from just a few feet out, giving Princeton the 4-3 lead and prompting a celebration behind the goal. Both of Ammon’s final two goals came on power-play opportunities.
“Ammon had a great game, obviously, and his goals are a great measure of that,” head coach Bob Prier said. “His overall physical play and tenacity on the puck are what led to him putting the puck in the net.”
Despite Sacred Heart’s 0-9-2 record coming into the non-conference match, the Pioneers challenged the Tigers throughout the game. Sacred Heart capitalized on two breakaway opportunities in the first period and tacked on another goal in the second period, forcing Princeton into a 3-1 deficit five minutes and 28 seconds into the second period.
“They were hanging a player at the far blue line, which we did not see in the film review going into the game,” Prier said. “It certainly caught us off guard.”
However, the Tigers soon recognized this tactic and adjusted defensively to halt the Sacred Heart scoring spree. In addition, Prier removed junior goaltender Sean Bonar from the net following the third goal, opting instead for senior netminder Mike Condon. Condon’s shutout play for the rest of the game allowed the Tigers, led by Ammon, to chip away at the Pioneers’ lead.
Despite the team’s comeback effort against Sacred Heart on Friday, Princeton could not secure a victory against UMass Lowell on Saturday night. Following an 8-2 walloping of the University of Massachusetts a week earlier, Lowell (4-5-1) entered the match with a combination of momentum and confidence that the Tigers, playing a non-conference match for the second straight day, eventually could not equal.
The first period proved a close-fought struggle, with both teams attempting to control the ice. Princeton created several great scoring opportunities early but could not capitalize on them. During the second period, Lowell began to gain momentum. The Riverhawks dominated shot attempts through the second period, posting 24 to the Tigers’ 13. Finally, with 1:54 remaining in the middle period, Lowell broke through. After winning the puck near mid-ice, Lowell forward Terrence Wallin orchestrated a quick give-and-go with forward Scott Wilson. Wallin’s composed backhanded finish awarded the Riverhawks a 1-0 lead, and Lowell never looked back. Lowell quickly tacked on two more goals before the end of the period, securing a 3-0 lead that would stand until the final buzzer.
Prier was disappointed that Princeton’s early success devolved so quickly into defeat.
“It was a game that we had a very good handle on up until that point, hitting two crossbars and out-chancing them pretty good,” Prier said. “We had a turnover in a tough area of the ice and a miscue giving Lowell a 2-1 lead, and they used that momentum to build a quick three-goal lead.”
In both matches, Princeton performed very well shorthanded, killing all nine power-play opportunities.
“We have started to develop poise on the penalty kill with good positional play and good communication,” Prier stated.
Now, the Tigers will prepare to return to conference play, with tough matchups against Rensselaer (3-5-2, 0-4-0) and Union (8-2-1, 3-1-0) next weekend. To win both games, the Tigers know they will have to improve.
“We have to have better starts to our games,” Prier acknowledged. “Scoring first is huge.”