SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Princeton has had a hard time scoring lately, and Union has had a hard time winning.
The Tigers continued to struggle on offense Friday night, and the Dutchmen took advantage by winning for the first time in over a month, 3-1 at Achilles Rink.
After a 1-1 first period, freshman Matt Vagvolgyi and captain Jeff Wilson scored in the second period for Union (1-2-1 ECAC, 4-4-3 overall).
The defense did the rest, clearing everything away from in front of goalie Brandon Snee, who said afterward that he had one of the easiest games of his college career — not as a knock on Princeton, but as a compliment to his blueliners.
“I think we’ve played well, especially in the big games, but not for 60 minutes every game,” Wilson said. “Tonight we came out and played 60 minutes of hard hockey. We need to do that for every game.”
It took all of four seconds after Mike Patton was called for interference for Union to get its much-maligned power play on track at 5:40 of the first period.
Kris Goodjohn won a faceoff back to Jason Kean at the point, and although Kean’s wrist shot was deflected by a defender’s stick blade, it hopped in off-speed to the front of the net, where Doug Christiansen easily redirected it past goalie Dave Stathos.
“I was pretty hard on the guys [about the power play] in practice the other day,” Union head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We weren’t working hard and executing, and they stuck it on me. I still don’t think we did a great job on it later in the game, but certainly it was a nice way to come out of the gate.
“Sometimes simplicity is good in that situation. You can work the puck around and look real fancy, but if you’re not getting a shot on net, it doesn’t really matter. They did a nice job on that particular play.”
“That’s all a power play is, is three main things – communication, work ethic and shooting the puck,” Wilson said. “We did that on that one power play, and lo and behold, we get a goal.”
Princeton tied it at 1-1 at 9:24 when Chris Owen tipped in a pass by David Del Monte from the right corner.
Union cranked up its offense in the second period, peppering Stathos with 13 shots.
Vagvolgyi scored his second goal of the season at 6:58 of the second, cleaning up the second rebound following a wrist shot from the point by Joel Beal.
Wilson made it 3-1 at 12:14 of the second with a low wrist shot from the right circle as the Dutchmen rushed into the zone shortly after Princeton had killed a penalty.
Union protected the crease like sacred ground after that.
“There was nothing in front,” Snee said. “Anything that came through, they cleared out, and they blocked shots from the point. All six guys on defense played well.”
“We get the shot, and we’re not willing enough to get to the front of the net to put a loose rebound in,” Princeton head coach Len Quesnelle said. “Scoring goals, you need some guys with some creativity around the net, and tonight Union was very physical, and we were just unable to get to the front of the net. I thought, overall, the effort was disgusting on our part.”