SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — A week off didn’t do wonders for Union Friday against Princeton.
The Dutchmen were listless for most of the game, while the Tigers showed that they are much improved over last year. Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer had a goal and an assist, and goalie Eric Leroux earned his second shutout of the season to lift the Tigers to a 4-0 ECAC victory over the Dutchmen at Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center.
“We just didn’t have the heart and the work ethic to win a hockey game tonight,” Union forward Joel Beal said. “When our team doesn’t have any heart and work ethic, we’re not going to win.”
The Dutchmen (2-2 ECAC, 7-4-3 overall) are 0-2-1 in their last three games. They were blanked for the first time since Cornell beat them, 6-0, Jan. 17 of last season at Messa Rink.
The uninspired Dutchmen were outshot, 23-16, and gave up eight power-play opportunities, two of which the Tigers converted. Union had just two shots on five power-play attempts.
“I take the blame,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “They had more jump than we did. They worked harder than we did. That’s why they drew penalties. We didn’t work hard to draw penalties.”
Princeton (4-5, 4-7) has surpassed its win total of last season, when it was 3-26-2.
“This year, we definitely have a lot more focus,” said Fouladgar-Mercer, who scored the first goal 2:07 into the game. “You see all the guys coming together behind the system we’re trying to do. When everyone tries to put it together like that, you see a lot of ‘W’s come.”
Union’s best scoring chance came during its first power-play opportunity. Jordan Webb had a wide-open net with 15:13 left, but his shot from the left circle went wide. Leroux wouldn’t be tested that much again. He finished with 16 saves.
The Dutchmen have struggled in second periods this season, getting outscored, 17-10, and outshot, 146-106, entering the game. It didn’t get any better against the Tigers.
Union managed just two shots on goal in the second, and went nearly 15 minutes between those shots. Princeton fired 11 shots on goalie Kris Mayotte and scored twice.
“We notice it,” Beal said. “We say to ourselves in the locker room, ‘Let’s go, fellows, let’s have a better second period tonight.’ I can’t make up any excuses for it. There’s no reason for it.”
There was four seconds left on Chris Konnick’s holding penalty when Patrick Neundorfer scored a power-play goal at 5:47. Chris Owen took a nice pass from Brian Carthas, who was behind the net, and put it past Mayotte at 13:26.
Seamus Young scored the Tigers’ final goal, a power-play tally, at 10:54 of the third period.
“It was a complete effort,” Princeton coach Len Quesnelle said. “Notwithstanding Eric’s shutout, I thought the team played very hard, and was poised and disciplined in front of him throughout the whole game.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.