The men’s hockey team will travel this weekend to the New York cities of Schenectady and Troy for conference play against Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. NCAA rankings put Union (8-3-2 overall, 5-1 ECAC) at No. 11, while Rensselaer (7-5-2, 2-3-2), which dropped out of the most recent top 20, was the un-ranked program with the most votes received in the poll.
The Tigers (3-10, 2-6 ECAC) come off a Thanksgiving weekend series at Michigan State that resulted in two losses in which they were outscored by nine goals.
Senior defenseman Jeremy Goodwin, when questioned as to potential areas for improvement, responded, “Everything, basically. We’ve been working hard in practice all week. Our coaches have been giving us drills to improve creativity on offense, so we can score more goals. They’ve been giving defensive drills, so we’re tougher to play against in our own end. And special teams too. We did a lot of work on the power play and penalty kill today. We’re just trying to get better every day in practice. At everything.”
One of the brightest spots this season came the previous weekend against Quinnipiac on the away leg of a series against the Bobcats. The 4-3 victory came as a result of a three-goal rally by Princeton in the final 10 minutes of the contest. “I think that goes to determination we have within our team. We were being outshot, but we stuck with it. And once you get one goal, they seem to come in bunches when you can get momentum going on your side.”
Goodwin also pointed to the play of senior forward Andrew Ammon as a positive factor in the past few games. Ammon has tallied six goals and two assists thus far, netting a goal in each of the past two games. Additionally, he leads the team in shots by a wide margin with 50 attempts. Senior defenseman Alec Rush is next on the squad with 25.
“We’ve had a few injuries, and we’ve had some top guys go down,” Goodwin began. “But that gives other guys an opportunity to step up. You can see that in a guy like Andrew Ammon who’s been playing unbelievably the last little while. And he’s been showing us how we need to play as a team.”
Recently, the team has seen an alternation between the pipes. For example, freshman Colton Phinney started last Friday’s game against the Spartans while senior Sean Bonar was the Tigers’ tender the next night. Bonar has played in nine games while Phinney has seen action in five.
Regarding upcoming opponents, Goodwin expressed admiration for strong teams who will require the Tigers’ best.
“Union’s always a team that looks to take a lot of shots,” he explained. “They’ve always had a really good power play. I think to beat them, we need to block a lot of shots and prevent them from getting grade-A opportunities in the slot and keep the puck safe on the outside of the rink.”
Fighting through a season where things haven’t gone the Tigers’ way, the senior defenseman expressed his and his team’s desire to find their rhythm.
“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we are right now,” he acknowledged. “We know we need to improve, and we need to make a statement and find our identity. We need to go out there and show the league what we’re made of, if you will. And I think we have the perfect opportunity to do that this weekend.”
These upcoming contests will be the team’s last before winter break. However, if you feel the need to catch some Princeton hockey, the women’s team will host Rensselaer and Union these Friday and Saturday afternoons at Baker Rink.