The men’s hockey team dropped its home opener to No. 9 Yale and subsequently stumbled against Brown over the weekend. Baker Rink has seen better weekends, as the defeats came by a combined margin of 5-11 (5-2 and 6-3). The two-loss home stand leaves the Tigers with a 1-5 record and a 0-4 mark in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
Four more home games are up next for the Tigers. First they will take on No. 16 UMass Lowell in the continuation of a series in which the River Hawks have a 5-3 advantage.
Facing the same matchups in foreign rinks, the women’s team secured two wins over Yale and Brown. The Tigers' (4-2, 4-2)win streak now extends to three, and they will look to continue it at home this Friday afternoon against the University of New Hampshire.
Friday night saw the men’s team take on the Bulldogs (3-1-2, 2-0-2). Five of Yale’s student-athletes have already had their names called by NHL teams. Earlier this year, the Prudential Center in Newark hosted this Ivy rivalry, with Yale grabbing an early 2-0 lead and riding the advantage out to a 3-2 win in the final game of the Liberty Hockey Invitational.
Sophomore defenseman Kevin Liss explained that his team prepared for the defending national champion the same as it would for any other team.
“We prepare pretty much the same each week regardless of who our opponent is,” he said. “We do obviously look at tendencies of specific teams. But as far as preparation was concerned, it was just a normal week of practice. Last year’s finishings don’t really have an impact on how we prepare for games.”
Princeton struggled throughout to match up with its fast and skilled opponents. Freshman goalie Colton Phinney, in the crease for his second start, was tested early and often, with his opponents tallying eight shots on goal in the first period. Twelve minutes into the game, the Tigers had fallen behind by two goals as their opponents dominated offensive possession with aggressive play. With 5:47 elapsed in the second period, Yale forward Stu Wilson scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal for his team, putting the Bulldogs up 3-0.
With just over four minutes left in the second period, senior defenseman Alec Rush ripped a shot past Yale tender Patrick Spano. Rush took his aim from the point on a two-minute power play. Senior forward Jack Berger and freshman forward Ben Foster contributed assists.
Senior goalie Sean Bonar relieved his freshman counterpart in the third period, and Yale could not get past him with its eight shots on goal in the final 20 minutes. Princeton managed to narrow the lead when junior forward Aaron Kesselman beat Spano for his first goal of the season, but the Tigers could not draw even.
Liss said he felt his team played with greater intensity as the game went on.
“I think we all knew that we were off to a slow start. It wasn’t something we were happy with," Liss said. "And especially with it being our home opener, we knew that Hobey and Princeton deserved better. We knew we could do better.”
Less than 24 hours later, the Tigers took on their second Ivy opponents of the weekend. Brown (3-2-1, 1-2-1) had handed Yale its only loss of the season at the Liberty Hockey Invitational.
Within three minutes – during a power play stemming from a Kesselman interference penalty – Brown moved the puck around the cage and Matt Lorito beat Bonar to give his team a 1-0 lead. The Tigers managed to equalize when senior forward Andrew Ammon got his stick on a loose puck in front of the cage for his second goal of the year. Junior forward Tucker Brockett recorded his first of three assists of the night on the play.
Acting quickly on another power play at the end of the first 20 minutes, Brown’s Matt Whal gave his team a lead it would not relinquish. Within just 52 seconds of play at the start of the next period, the Bears picked up two more goals. The scoreboard read 4-1 in favor of the away team with 19:08 left in the second.
Nineteen minutes into the period, Berger notched the Tigers’ second goal of the day on a power play. One more goal came for the home side halfway through the final period as Ammon sent a skillful cross by sophomore forward Jonathan Liau past the Brown goalie. An unassisted goal by Brown’s Mark Naclerio earlier in the period had extended his team’s scoring tally to six.
What was noteworthy was a tremendous save by Bonar, who dove back to his stick side to prevent a goal on a three-man breakaway. Against Yale, the Princeton goalies combined for 25 saves to their opponent’s 23. Against Brown, Bonar recorded 26 saves while the Bears' Tyler Steel notched 22. Combined on the weekend, the Tigers spent 35 minutes shorthanded while their opponents combined for 14 penalty minutes.
Liss maintained an optimistic view after this weekend.
“I think the message to take away from this weekend is that our team is very capable of performing, and this weekend will just be a small road bump in the long run,” he said.
Liss hopes that the Tigers will be able to improve upon their starts and demonstrate their peak play in more than just the final period.
“We definitely need to improve upon our starts. We’ve had two fairly good periods in the last two games, but we’ve come out a little slow. If we make plays and play within our system, we can improve our scoring,” he said. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with how we played last weekend. But it’s not getting us down. We know that we’re capable, and we can achieve better.”
The Tigers will take to Baker Rink at 7 p.m. Tuesday, looking to snap their five-game losing skid against UMass Lowell.
The women’s side faced-off against the Bulldogs (0-5-1, 0-3-1) at the same time as their male counterparts in what would prove to be an exciting contest in New Haven. After a scoreless first period, senior forward Sally Butler opened the scoring on assists from junior and senior defenders Ali Pankowski and Rose Alleva. Alleva would go on to assist both of Princeton’s later goals.
Yale equalized on a power play shortly thereafter and sent the game into the third period with the score at 1-1. Senior forward Olivia Mucha notched her third goal of the season, only to have Yale tie it up shortly thereafter.
The game-winning goal came off the stick of sophomore forward Jaimie McDonell with just over nine minutes played in the final period. At the end of regulation, Princeton skated off victoriously, with sophomore goaltender Kimberley Newell earning her second win of the season, having stopped 34 Yale shots.
The next day, the women’s team continued east to Providence to take on Ivy rivals Brown (1-4-1, 0-3-1). The first three goals came off of power plays, with Brown striking first but the Tigers responding in under a minute. Alleva equalized with the extra-man advantage.
Capitalizing on Brown’s third penalized infraction of the second period and fifth of the game, Alleva notched her second goal of the day late into the second period. Sophomore forward Cristin Shanahan continued what would be a run of five unanswered goals for the Tigers. With 3:15 left in the contest, the Bears’ Erin Conway scored during a power play, but the effort would not serve to overcome Princeton’s lead. The Orange and Black remained unbeaten on the season and tallied its fourth win.