After a brief winter break, Princeton Men's Ice Hockey travelled to New England this weekend to resume its season with road games against conference opponents Dartmouth and Harvard. The team was looking to continue its momentum from a successful December, in which it posted a 5-2 record, but got off to a suboptimal start by dropping both games.
Friday night's game at Dartmouth was a lopsided affair from the beginning. Dartmouth's Cam Strong opened the scoring midway through the first, and Corey Kalk added a power play goal at the 14:07 mark to bring the score to 2-0. Princeton would prove unable to mount a comeback, as Dartmouth added two more goals in the second period, and another in the third. The game, however, was more competitive than the 5-0 score might indicate. Princeton was only outshot 35-32, but was victimized by a shutout 32-save performance from Dartmouth goalie Devin Buffalo. Princeton senior goalie Colton Phinney, on the other hand, was less stellar than usual and was pulled midway through the second after allowing a fourth goal in favor of junior Ben Halford. In another positive, Princeton maintained discipline by not committing penalties, sending only one man to the penalty box. Dartmouth, however, did convert this lone power play opportunity.
The going would not get any easier for the Tigers, as they visited No. 4 Harvard on Saturday. Despite eventually falling 5-2, the team continued its tendency to perform well against highly ranked teams. Princeton opened the scoring in the second period with sophomore defenseman Josh Teves' second goal of the season, but conceded two Harvard goals within a minute of each other late in the second, one of which came on the power play. Freshman forward Jackson Cressey evened the score at 2-2 early in the third with assists from sophomore forward Ryan Kuffner and the recently named National College Hockey Player of the Month, sophomore forward Max Véronneau. Harvard, however, would pull back ahead shortly thereafter with a goal from Alexander Kerfoot and added two empty net goals after Princeton pulled the goalie late in the third. This was Princeton's second disappointing defeat against Harvard; the teams were also locked in a 2-2 tie in their November game before Princeton faltered. The team will now have to hope for an opportunity in the conference tournament to exact its revenge. Even in defeat, Princeton saw the resurgence of Phinney, who saved a remarkable 46 of 49 shots and now sits just five saves shy of the Princeton all-time saves record.
Princeton will hope to revert back to its winning ways this upcoming weekend, as the team returns home to face two more ECAC opponents, Cornell and Colgate. These games will undoubtedly be critical as Princeton continues to fight for position in the conference standings.