PRINCETON, N.J. — Somewhere in the midst of cramming for final exams, Princeton learned how to score goals.
Playing its first game since Jan. 12, Princeton came out like a ball of fire and St. Lawrence (7-16-0, 5-8-0 ECAC) wilted under a barrage of Tiger shots, 5-2 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink on Friday in front of a crowd of 1,823. The win moved Princeton in a tie for seventh place with Yale in the ECAC.
The Tigers (7-13-0, 6-7-0 ECAC) struck early and often in the first period, opening a 3-1 lead by the end of the frame. The scoring began at 1:05 when David Del Monte scored a shorthanded goal, getting spring on a breakaway by captain Dave Schneider and beat Saint netminder Kevin Ackley.
The goal was the first of two on the period for Del Monte.
Junior defenseman Neil McCann spotted the Tigers a 2-0 lead with his first goal of the season — and just the third of his career — at 11:12.
“We’ve had to play so many close games in that if we gave up more than three we would lose,” said sophomore defenseman Matt Maglione. “It was nice to get some goals. It really put wind in our sails.”
The game did not feature many sparkling defensive plays by either side as the teams seemed to trade odd-man rushes at times. The Tigers got the better of the offensive chances through the first two periods, beating SLU to loose pucks and creating turnovers at the blueline. However, there was plenty of sloppy defensive-zone play to go around and by the third period, the Saints had plenty of golden opportunities to get back into the game.
Though the offensive chances may have evened by the end of the night, Princeton received by far the better of the goaltending. Ackley did not make it past the first period for the Saints, getting replaced by fellow freshman Mike McKenna.
“We cam out with a lot of speed and created chances for ourselves,” Princeton coach Len Quesnelle said. “The momentum shifted back but we did a good job ultimately maintaining our defensive posture.”
Senior Dave Stathos, on the other hand, made several spectacular saves to keep Princeton head including three diving stops on a rebound barrage late in the second. For the night, Stathos made 30 saves.
“The third goal was a real backbreaker for us,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “We did not do a good job of damage control. We had better zone time as the game went on, but couldn’t finish our chances. And the shorthanded goal didn’t help either.”
The teams traded goals in the second period as sophomore center Chris Owen widened the Princeton lead to three on a wrist shot off a nice drop pass by Maglione at 10:41. Charlie Daniels responded for the Saints at 18:34 on a wraparound, but his team would draw no closer in the contest.
The game marked a nice homecoming for the Tigers, who hadn’t seen the frozen confines of Hobey Baker since Dec. 28, a 2-1 loss against Notre Dame. It was their first contest of any kind since Jan. 12 as Princeton — along with Harvard — still punishes their students with final exams after the Christmas holidays.
“The break gave us a chance to recharge our batteries,” Quesnelle said. “It provided us an opportunity to refocus, dividing the season up for us. We need to get points now during the stretch run.”
The Saints, meanwhile, lost the opportunity to build off a 6-5 win over rival Clarkson last Tuesday.
“It has been that type of year for us,” Marsh said. “We had a pretty good effort, but they did a good job of bending and not breaking.”
Junior winger George Parros rounded out the scoring late in the third period to give Princeton its final 5-2 margin of victory.