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Men's hockey inconsistent, splits contests versus Colgate, Cornell

Don't let its record fool you. This men's hockey team is good. But not so good that it can't destroy themselves.

In what has been an up-and-down season, this weekend the Tigers went on another rollercoaster ride, quashing Col-gate 4-0 Friday night before dropping a 4-1 decision to Cornell Saturday night.

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Earlier in the season, Princeton (11-6-3 overall, 5-6-3 Eastern College Athletic Conference) seemed unable to put together a complete game. Friday it proved that it has overcome that problem in one of the best games the team has played all year, but Saturday showed the Tigers are still incapable of having a solid ECAC weekend.

"I don't think we've ever won two league games in a weekend (this season)," junior center Jeff Halpern said.

All about will

Unfortunately Princeton's inconsistency cannot be blamed on its opponents. Though the Tigers can play with and probably beat any team in this league, the results tend to depend on more internal focus.

"Cornell played fine," head coach Don Cahoon said. "I don't think Cornell had a lot to do with the outcome of that game. Princeton had the most to do with the outcome. We beat ourselves in that game."

Saturday Princeton jumped out to an early lead on a shorthanded goal by Halpern and was playing solid hockey until sophomore forward Benoit Morin picked up his second penalty of the first period, a five-minute major for hitting from behind and two minutes for dangerous play.

Penalties don't pay

Morin's penalty set up the Big Red on an extensive power play and it responded with two goals to finish the first period.

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Early in the second period, Cornell scored again after a hard hit by Halpern which knocked a Cornell player off the ice into the Tiger bench resulting in a crosschecking penalty and set up four-on-three play.

In a physical game, Princeton was unable to control its aggression and could not shut down Cornell's numerous power-play opportunities.

"They had the advantage tonight. Our power play couldn't click and theirs did," Halpern said. "Guys who don't kill penalties or get on power plays get out of sync."

Already leading the league in scoring, Halpern picked up three more goals, including two shorthanded goals, bringing his season total to 18. The Tigers actually had three shorthanded tallies on the weekend, as junior forward Syl Apps picked up his fourth goal of the season, a shorthanded tally against Cornell.

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Friday's game was also marked by physical play, including a fight with four minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the third period. Freshman forward Ethan Doyle and Colgate's Rob Mara picked up four-minute double-roughing penalties for the altercation.

"These two teams just don't like each other," Cahoon said.

Overall, the Tigers were very impressive against Colgate, which had trashed Princeton 8-4 in this season's previous meeting. Halpern started the scoring fifteen minutes into the game, tapping in a hard rebound off junior left wing Scott Bertoli's slap shot. Sophomore forward Brad Meredith scored the only full-strength goal just 0:28 into the second period.

Princeton mastered the Colgate power play as both Apps and Halpern scored shorthanded goals by intercepting the Red Raiders feed to center ice and then taking the puck straight to the net to beat Colgate goalie Shep Harder for easy scores.

"It was nice to get a couple of shorthanded goals," Apps said. "We had their breakout figured out pretty good."

The Tigers just missed a few other easy scoring chances when Colgate dumped the puck and went to the bench to change all five players. Senior goalie Erasmo Saltarelli had several long feeds near mid-ice for streaking Princeton forwards.

"I kept seeing opportunities to throw it up there with five guys going to the bench," Saltarelli said. "There's a couple of guys who know to look for that."

Princeton's next action is another key ECAC weekend Friday and Saturday versus Harvard and Brown.

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