After consecutive losses in the first three games of their season, the men’s hockey team (2–3–0 overall, 2–3–0 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) skated to two victories this weekend against rivals Yale (1–5–0, 1–5–0 ECAC) and Brown (1–4–1, 1–4–1 ECAC).
In the first period on Friday versus Yale, the Tigers played with intensity from the start. The team doubled the Bulldogs in shots in the period, with 18 shots to Yale’s nine. A five-minute face-masking major was assessed to Yale’s William Dineen at the 14:50 mark of the period, and Yale took another penalty just two minutes later to give Princeton a five-on-three advantage. In this extended five-on-three, first-year winger Brendan Gorman skated with speed up the right wing and sniped a puck past Yale goaltender Nathan Reid for his third goal of the early season. This goal was started on a pass by sophomore goaltender Ethan Pearson, who registered a rare goalie assist on the play.
With the score at 1–0 heading into the second, the Tigers looked to hold and extend their lead. They were able to do just that on a nifty goal by junior forward Nick Seitz. Seitz, scoring his first goal of the year, took a pass at the right circle, quickly cut back, and snapped one past the goalie.
The second period also saw the Tigers commit three different penalties, including two towards the end of the period to give the Bulldogs a five-on-three advantage. The Tigers, with a few saves from Pearson, were able to decisively kill the penalties. From there, the Tigers entered the third period with a two-goal lead.
The Tigers took the lead into the final frame and never looked back. With shutdown defense and a goaltender who was not letting anything by him, the Tigers executed a quality close-out period to defeat Yale. Senior forward Liam Gorman capped the game off with an empty netter, and the Tigers left New Haven with their first win of the season. On an individual note, Tigers goalie Pearson registered his first career win and his first shutout, stopping 25 of 25 shots.
“I love both of our goalies,” Head Coach Ron Fogarty wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “Both are capable of making big saves and creating a calm atmosphere both on the ice and on our bench. Our details to our defensive play are continuing to get better, in limiting red zone opportunities against, which is allowing our goalies to track the play and puck easier.”
More of the same occurred in the Saturday tilt versus Brown, with the Tigers and Pearson earning a second consecutive shutout in a 1–0 victory. Princeton dominated the first period yet again, with 12 shots to the Bears’ four. However, Brown was able to stave off the Tigers’ offense in the first, killing three Princeton power plays in the early going.
During the second, the Tigers continued to play strongly. Pearson, after a shutout the night before, did his part yet again. Another perfect night included a set of strong saves at the 14-minute mark of the period. Pearson saved nine of nine in the period and all 21 shots he faced in this game.
“My play early on this season is a big reflection on how the guys are playing in front of me,” Pearson wrote in a comment to the ‘Prince.’ “Having trust in my teammates really allows me to bring my game to the next level and keeps me in a flow state throughout the game.”
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Tigers broke through on a power-play goal at the 14:35 mark of the final period. Receiving a pass from senior defenseman Pito Walton, sophomore forward Jack Cronin slapped a one-timer past the Brown goaltender. It was his third power play goal of the season.
Fogarty remarked about the early success of the power play, saying “both power plays have been moving the puck around and finding quality scoring opportunities. [Cronin] has a terrific shot and has been the finishing touch on a power play that has created a lot of opportunities through great puck movement.”
Cronin’s goal was all the Tigers needed, with the final score being 1–0. Princeton, on the shoulders of strong team effort and back-to-back shutouts from Pearson, swept a weekend with two pivotal wins. Fogarty continues to like where his team is headed.
“We have played well in each of our first five games where each game has been close entering the third period. We are becoming comfortable in playing tight games and having composure. After a setback on the scoreboard last weekend, the players proved that the process is working by accomplishing a difficult task in sweeping on the road in the ECAC.”
The Tigers will square off next in a home-and-home with undefeated Quinnipiac (4–0–0, 4–0–0 ECAC) starting at Hobey Baker Rink Friday, Nov. 18.
Cole Keller is a contributor to the data and sports sections at the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.