Princeton Men’s Ice Hockey traveled to northern Minnesota this weekend and earned its first two wins of the season in a pair of impressive performances against No. 10 Bemidji State University.
Friday’s series opener between the two teams was locked in a hotly contested and scoreless draw for 35 minutes before two goals from sophomore forward Ryan Kuffner and junior defenseman Joe Grabowski within the span of three minutes gave Princeton a 2-0 lead that it would not relinquish. Bemidji narrowed the margin to one at the 12:39 mark with a power play goal, before junior forward Max Becker reopened the margin with a skillful backhand goal three minutes later. Kuffner added another goal, his third of the season, on an empty net with less than a minute remaining to solidify a 4-1 victory for the Tigers. Princeton received stellar performances from senior goalie Colton Phinney, who saved a remarkable 35 of 36 shots, and freshman forward Jeremy Germain, whose 2 assists in the second period brought him to a team-leading 5 assists for the year.
Saturday’s game saw Princeton again defeat Bemidji, this time by a score of 3-1. Princeton trailed 1-0 entering through one period after a goal by Bemidji’s Nate Arentz on a penalty shot, but junior forward David Hallisey scored two goals in rapid succession midway through the second period to reclaim the lead for Princeton. He scored the first point off assists from team point-leader junior forward Eric Robinson and senior defender Quin Pompi, and the second just seconds into a power play off a rebound from freshman forward Jackson Cressey. Though Bemidji launched an offensive onslaught in a third period in which it dominated the puck and took far more shots, Princeton’s defense held stout until a Pompi strike halfway through the period gave Princeton a commanding two-goal lead that it would not relinquish. Junior goalie Ben Halford filled in for an injured Phinney during Saturday’s game and performed admirably, allowing just one goal and making a career-high 43 saves.
This weekend’s wins mark a major accomplishment for Princeton, which brought its record to 2-6-1. Though the team has been executing well throughout the season, earning a pair of road wins against a nationally ranked team will undoubtedly give the team confidence that it can get positive results in the upcoming games against conference foes. Princeton will next return home to face conference opponents Union College and RPI this Friday and Saturday, respectively.