Men host pair of ranked teams for senior weekend, women travel to New York| February 20, 2014
For what will be the last time, the seniors of Princeton men’s hockey (5-20 overall, 4-14 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) will take to Baker Rink this weekend against conference opponents Colgate and Cornell. Both foes currently sit inside the top four of the ECAC table.
The Colgate Raiders (14-11-5, 10-5-3) have had impressive stretches this season, and are currently riding a three-game unbeaten streak. The Cornell Big Red (12-7-5, 8-6-4) managed a ten-game unbeaten streak (including against non-conference opponents) starting in early December and ending in February. However, a 6-1 away loss to Colgate started their currently three-game losing skid.
On Nov. 1and 2, Princeton opened conference play away against these two opponents and emerged with an early-season 0-2 league record.
The much-beleaguered Tigers sit at the bottom of the league in goals scored per game with a mark of 2.08, suggesting that the Princeton offense has yet to find any sort of consistent scoring touch in a competitive league. Second worst Harvard has managed 2.48 goals per contest. The 3.80 goals-against average likewise places the men at the bottom of the league in defense. A -1.32 per game scoring margin appears nearly insurmountable at this point.
There remain some bright spots on the talented – albeit underperforming – roster. Senior winger Andrew Ammon earned ECAC Player of the Week honors for his eight-point performance against Ivy opponents Brown and No. 13 Yale. His 20 points set the pace for Princeton’s skaters. Right behind him with 16 is classmate and center Andrew Calof. Paired together, Ammon and Calof provide their team with the best opportunity to produce goals.
After his stellar performance last weekend, senior standout Ammon spoke of a team that is still looking to find its strengths while identifying and correcting weaknesses.
“Right now we’re trying to find our identity. In our league every team makes the playoffs,” he explained. “So it’s all about getting hot at the right time. That’s what we’re working on right now. We’ve been making some positive strides as far as our team play is concerned.”
Colgate puts forward a balanced squad of scorers, with 10 skaters having registered double-digit point totals. Forwards Tyson Spink and Mike Borowski lead the Raiders with 25 and 24 points respectively.
Similarly, seven Cornell players have managed to score in the double-digits. Goaltender Andy Iles has played in 23 of the Big Red’s games and has registered a save percentage of .914. This mark is fourth-best in the ECAC for goaltenders who have played 20 or more games.
Women’s hockey (13-10-4 overall, 9-8-3 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) will play their final two games of their season on the road. The trip will take them to Hamilton and Ithaca, N.Y. to face off against Colgate (9-21-2, 6-14) and No. 3 Cornell (20-3-4, 15-2-3). A gulf in competitiveness exists between these two New York teams, with Colgate sitting third-to-last in the table and the Big Red currently first in the league.
Two wins could slot the Tigers into a tie for fourth in the conference – and thus earn them home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs – provided that Quinnipiac finishes the weekend with a pair of losses. Even so, the tie-breaking procedures for the postseason tournament stipulate that the head-to-head record between two teams tied in the standings will be the first deciding factor. The Quinnipiac Bobcats hold a 1-0-1 edge over Princeton this season.
These games come as rematches of November contests at Baker Rink. The showdown against then third-ranked Cornell saw five first-period goals by the Big Red. In response, the Tigers recorded four goals in the second period but proved unable to find the equalizer. Colgate visited Princeton the next day and led the Tigers by a slim 1-0 margin going into the final period. Six goals in the final 20 minutes gave the home side a 6-2 victory.
Senior captain and center Denna Liang and her classmate winger Sally Butler have provided a good portion of the Tigers’ offensive production with 24 and 18 points respectively. Liang continues to draw the eyes of spectators whenever she features on the ice due to her speed and coverage in all three zones.
The Princeton side has seen contributions from all over the roster, however. Sophomore goaltender Kimberly Newell has started in 25 games. Additionally, freshmen forwards Kelsey Koelzer, Hillary Lloyd and Fiona McKenna added key points in last weekend’s competition.
Colgate’s Raiders will need at least one win this weekend if they hope to make it into the eight-team playoffs. They sit inside the bottom five of the league in goals per game, power play conversion percentage, goals-against average and save percentage.
The Big Red ranks just behind Clarkson in goals scored per game with an average of 3.70. Their roster features two of the league’s top five goal-scorers in forwards Jillian Sauliner (21 G, 21 A) and Emily Fulton (16 G, 21 A). It will take a determined team effort for the Tigers to knock off the league leaders in Ithaca this weekend.