The men’s hockey team proved unable to stall its early-season five-game losing skid. Hosting No. 16 University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Tigers (1-6 overall, 1-5 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) tasted defeat in their sixth consecutive contest. Last season’s national semifinalist River Hawks (6-4, 2-1 Hockey East) — the particular river being the Merrimack — entered the game holding the edge in the series with five wins to three losses.
A first period of fairly even play demonstrated that Princeton could play with its elite opponent, who demonstrated physicality and precision throughout. For a majority of the contest, the Tigers held strong when it mattered and withstood the River Hawks’ offense.
UML goalie Doug Carr made a skillful glove save against an odd man rush 14:56 in on what had been the best opportunity for the Tigers to that point.
3:15 remained in the first period when junior defenseman Aaron Ave ripped a shot from the blue line that ricocheted into the UML net to give Princeton a one-goal advantage. He notched his first goal of the year and third point. This marked the first time that the Orange and Black have had a lead over their opponents since their Oct. 25 season-opening victory over Dartmouth.
This lead proved short-lived, however. Princeton surrendered a power play with 2:22 left in the opening period. The Hawks possessed and passed around the cage to find a UML defenseman standing with an open look and beating senior goalie Sean Bonar glove-side.
Princeton looked to regain the lead on its first power play with 12 minutes left in the second period but couldn’t convert against an aggressive Lowell defense.
Neither offense could capitalize in the second. As the 20 minutes wound down, both teams had players incurring penalties, resulting in two minutes of four-on-four with 1:07 left in the period. Sophomore defenseman Kevin Liss committed a tripping infraction just as time expired to stave off a UML scoring chance near the cage.
The Tigers sent only three skaters out at the beginning of the final period due to the penalty. Fifteen seconds into the four-on-five, Lowell’s Derek Arnold put the puck past a Princeton defender and Bonar’s glove to give his team the first lead. This goal would prove to be the game-winner.
Both teams saw a number of opportunities in the final period, but neither converted. Staunch Lowell goalkeeping — and defenders being opportunely in the way – prevented a number of Princeton chances. The crossbar saved a third River Hawks goal with two minutes left.
The last 60 seconds provided riveting intensity as the Tigers pulled Bonar from the net and threw an extra skater on the ice in a final attempt to score. A number of equalizing opportunities skewed just wide of the UML cage.
Princeton will attempt to end its losing streak this weekend as it hosts Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard this Friday and Saturday, respectively, at 7 p.m.