The past year was a saw major change for the men’s hockey team, perhaps most evident by the transition from former head coach Bob Prier to current skipper Ron Fogarty. The calendar year culminated with three games and an exhibition match that were somewhat emblematic of the year as a whole, with flashes of excellence but disappointing results largely due to a dormant attack.
The Tigers (2-12-1, 1-9 Eastern College Athletic Conference) travelled to frigid Mankato, Minn., to battle No. 3 Minnesota State University (14-4-1) in nonleague play on Dec. 12. The Mavericks entered play on a roll, touting a high-powered offense averaging nearly four goals a game to complement strong defensive play.
The visitors came out of the gate playing attacking hockey. The Tigers outshot their opponent 9-6 in the first period—the first time they had done so since the season opener against Cornell. However, Minnesota State netminder Cole Huggins stopped all nine shots while Bryce Gervais and Zach Palmquist converted for the home team on the other end of the ice, beating sophomore goalie Colton Phinney. The Mavericks dominated the following two periods, outshooting the Princeton side 25-6 while Dylan Margonari, C.J. Franklin and Max Gaede added tallies to finalize the 5-0 blowout. Huggins finished with 15 saves in a shutout effort.
The two teams were originally scheduled to play the following night, Dec. 13, but the game was cancelled due to several Minnesota State players falling ill with the flu. With that unforeseen development, the Tigers returned home for a two-week break before their next game, an ECAC home-and-home with No. 14 Quinnipiac (13-6-1, 8-2 ECAC) on Dec. 27 and 28.
In Hamden, Conn., Quinnipiac defended its home ice with a 2-0 victory, marking the second time this season the Tigers had been blanked in two straight games. Matthew Peca scored at 15:41 in the first period, which would be all the Bobcats needed in front of goalie Michael Garteig, who posted 19 saves to earn the shutout. Phinney stopped 22 of 24 shots on the other end for the Tigers, conceding an insurance goal to Bo Pieper midway through the second period.
The following night, Princeton hockey got some high profile attention. The Princeton faithful packed Baker Rink full with a season-high 2,299 fans in attendance to watch the Tigers and Bobcats play before a national audience on ESPNU. With ESPN personality John Buccigross and former NHL goaltender Andrew Raycroft calling the game, the Orange and Black fought an exciting, hard-nosed game, falling 1-0 to their ECAC foes.
The two teams battled to a scoreless stalemate after two periods, with Phinney stopping 16 shots to Garteig’s 11. Early in the third, a scrum ensued following a whistle near the visitor’s bench. As a result, junior forward and alternate captain Mike Ambrosia was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, and Quinnipiac’s Danny Federico received a two-minute roughing minor. After Federico was released from the box, Devon Toews scored a power play goal at 5:00 to put the Bobcats on top. The Tigers were unable to respond despite pulling Phinney for an extra attacker with a minute left in regulation, and the score would remain 1-0 until the final horn.
Phinney stopped 23 of 24 shots in a losing effort, while his counterpart Garteig finished with 21 saves for his second shutout in as many games. The Tigers were yet again unable to put a goal on the board, with their last goal coming on Dec. 6 against Dartmouth, extending the goal drought to just over a whopping 210 minutes.
This past Saturday, the Tigers welcomed the Russian Red Stars for an exhibition game at Baker Rink. Sophomore Ryan Siiro, freshman Joe Grabowski, Ambrosia and senior Tucker Brockett all scored in a 4-3 victory for the Tigers in their first action of 2015. The team returns to formal play this weekend, hosting ECAC opponents Union College (10-7-2, 3-4-1 ECAC) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (6-15-1, 4-5-0 ECAC) this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.