Men's hockey head coach Don Cahoon has tried many things this season to turn his team around.
This weekend, it was not the new power play scheme or any tweak in the lineup that boosted Princeton. It was a simple — but unusual — proposal.
In response to the desperate circumstances of his team's five-game losing streak, Cahoon gave his players a new motivation: If the team could pick up three or four points on the weekend, Cahoon offered, the Tigers could pick up a pair of hair clippers and have their way with their coach's coif.
Going into Friday's game at Union, Princeton was clinging to the tenth and final Eastern College Athletic Conference playoff position. Now, the Tigers (8-12-3 overall, 6-7-3 ECAC) are riding a two-game winning streak and sit in a tie for fifth in the conference after a 6-1 thrashing of Union and a hard-fought 4-3 win over Rensselaer Saturday.
And Cahoon is showcasing his team's resurgence with a fresh buzz cut courtesy of the Baker Rink Barber Shop.
"We haven't had much confidence lately," sophomore forward Brad Parsons said, "but getting those two wins, it's a big boost."
Parsons recorded a hat trick as the Tigers beat the Engineers (17-8-2, 9-5-1) Saturday night. The game was sweet redemption because RPI had dominated Princeton with a 6-2 victory in the two teams' first meeting at Baker Rink Jan. 28.
Senior forward Benoit Morin started the scoring with a goal 17 minutes into the first period. He was assisted by senior defenseman Darren Yopyk and sophomore defenseman Dave Bennett. After RPI tied the game early in the second period, Parsons scored the first of his three tallies on a pass from junior forward Kirk Lamb to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The high-powered Engineers came back to tie the score at two late in the second period before Parsons took over and scored goals at 3:43 and 12:26 into the period to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead. A late charge brought RPI to within one goal, but it was too little, too late as sophomore goalie Dave Stathos stopped several late shots to ensure the win. The netminder finished the night with 21 saves.
Coming off a solid game against league-leading St. Lawrence Feb. 5, Princeton felt that they had gained momentum coming into this weekend. The Tigers proved it Friday when they came out early and dominated the Dutchmen (7-17-1, 5-9-1). Only 62 seconds into the game, junior forward Chris Corrinet scored the first of his two goals on a rebound off a shot by sophomore forward Brad Parsons.
"[Against Union], our game plan was to outwork them," Parsons said. "If we did that, then our talent would help us win the game. To put six up on the board was really good."
Union got its only goal of the night to tie the game two minutes into the second period, but Princeton came back and took the lead for good only 30 seconds later as sophomore forward Josh Roberts beat Union netminder Brandon Snee. He was assisted by freshman defenseman Trevor Beaney.
Lamb and Corrinet scored late in the second period to put the game out of reach. Junior forwards Shane Campbell and Ethan Doyle scored the Tigers final two goals early in the third. Parsons would finish with three assists in the game.
Morin broke the unofficial school record for career penalty minutes with his 298th against the Dutchmen after picking up a two-minute minor for roughing late in the first period. The penalty left the senior in the box for the 92nd and 93rd minutes of his season.
"We're coming down the stretch," Parsons said. "We're gunning for home ice, and everyone has that in mind."
(Rick Bullock contributed to this report.)