Men's Hockey: Princeton takes on No. 13 Quinnipiac
The men’s hockey team will face its toughest challenge of the season this weekend, squaring off in a home-and-home series against No. 13 Quinnipiac on Friday and Saturday. The matchup pits the streaking Bobcats (10-3-2 overall, 6-0 ECAC), who have not lost in over a month, against a shaken Tiger squad that relinquished third-period leads and emerged with ties in both of its last two games.
Princeton (3-4-3, 2-1-3) will look to recover from the shock of tying those two winnable matchups by maintaining equal focus until the final whistle this weekend.
“We need to focus on playing the same way regardless of what the scoreboard says,” head coach Bob Prier said. “Great teams are methodical regardless of the situation in the game.”
Quinnipiac comes into the match on an eight-game unbeaten streak, outscoring its opponents by a resounding 29-10 margin over that stretch. In addition, the Bobcats defeated the Tigers in both of last season’s meetings.
Perhaps the most important task for Princeton is to slow down the ferocious Quinnipiac offense. To accomplish this goal, the Tigers will need to possess the puck as much as possible, limiting the Bobcats’ chances.
Goaltending will also play an enormous role in the matchup. Quinnipiac netminder Eric Hartzell has been superb this season, converting over 93 percent of his save opportunities. Princeton’s senior goalkeeper Mike Condon has played well recently, saving 91 percent of his chances this season, and he will need to match Hartzell in order to keep the games close.
The Tigers will also look to continue to maintain their excellent power-play success.
“Special teams and goaltending,” Prier mentioned as keys to this weekend’s series. “If we can keep our power-play going and get solid goaltending, we have a chance to win every game we play.”
Friday night’s matchup at Quinnipiac, which will be broadcast on the New England Sports Network, will be the Tigers’ first television appearance this season. Prier said he does not expect playing on camera will impact Princeton’s play.
“I do not believe it will affect them. The TV timeouts will help with our short bench, if anything,” he said.
Saturday night’s game, which will be played at Baker Rink, will be Princeton’s first home game in nearly a month. Princeton is 2-0 at home this season, having defeated then-No. 4 Cornell and Colgate in November. However, Quinnipiac has played very well on the road this year: The Bobcats are 6-0-1 on opponents’ ice this season.
Still, the Tigers will be happy to play before their home crowd once again.
“Home-ice advantage is huge,” Prier said. “We are certainly looking forward to playing at home.”
Although the doubleheader against Quinnipiac will be difficult, it marks a pivotal point in the season for Princeton. If the Tigers emerge victorious, they can end their recent slide and cement their position as a true contender in the ECAC this season.
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