On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the Quinnipiac Bobcats (19-2-3), ranked second nationally, defeated the unranked Tigers (4-11-2, 3-6-1 ECAC) with a 6-0 victory at Baker Rink. The two teams previously faced off earlier in January at the Bobcats’ home rink, where Princeton lost 9-0.
Prior to this game, Quinnipiac suffered a heartbreaking defeat in overtime against Cornell. Wednesday night, however, the team left critics no doubt about their dominance, beating the Princeton Tigers in convincing fashion.
Princeton knew their role as the underdog before the first drop of the puck. Just past the midway point of the season, the Tigers currently sit in second to last place in conference, just ahead of Dartmouth. Quinnipiac, meanwhile, leads the way in a number of categories in the ECAC. Aside from receiving national praise for their performance, the Bobcats also are No. 1 in the ECAC in goals, assists, and saves percentage.
Scoring for Quinnipiac was spread evenly, both throughout the game and across players. Two goals were scored in each of three periods, reflecting the Bobcats’ dominance throughout the entire game. Five different players got a clean look at the net and nailed it through. Quinnipiac’s senior forward Michael Lombardi led his team in goals. 7:43 into the third period, his shot from the slot gave him his second goal and his team its sixth goal of the game.
Leading the charge for the Tigers were senior defender Mark Paolini, senior forward Christian O’Neill, sophomore forward Joe Berg, each with three shots on goal. On the defensive front, sophomore defender Nick Carabin finished ahead of all players on either side with four blocked shots.
While the season has not been their strongest thus far, the Tigers are no strangers to overcoming setbacks. Last time Princeton fell to Quinnipiac on Jan. 18, they bounced back. Just three days following defeat, they traveled to Ithaca to knock off No. 8 Cornell in what was their first victory against a Top-10 team in four years.
Only time will tell if this recent loss will have a similar effect.
“We’re hit heavy with our schedule due to some COVID pauses, so we’re looking to get our full team back and healthy. We still have some players out with injuries. We haven’t had a team practice with our full roster since day one due to COVID and injuries,” Head Coach Ron Fogarty said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “We’re looking to get our team fully back together and continue from our first four games of the season with the style of play that made us successful as we showed in our game against Cornell.”
In order to get back on track, contributions will be necessary from some of the squad’s key players — namely, sophomore forward Ian Murphy and senior forward Corey Andonovski who lead the team in goals this season.
Playoff hopes are not unworldly. There is still a whole month of hockey left to play — 12 games, half of which are against teams in the bottom half of the conference. The true test for Princeton may be their performance on their own ice; their current home record reads 0-5-1. If they can figure out a way to make home-court an advantage, they may still have enough time to turn this season around.
According to Coach Fogarty, the key to winning moving forward is this: “Poise, with and without the puck. Puck support. And overall just [the] ability to make plays.”
Their mission continues at home in Hobey Baker Rink on Friday, Jan. 28, against Brown.
Matt Drapkin is a staff writer for the ‘Prince’ sports section. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.