PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton’s 6-3 win over Yale resulted in two unhappy teams.
The Bulldogs (0-9, 0-7 ECACHL) remain winless and were frustrated to lose control of a game that was for a while within their reach. Yale outshot Princeton (4-4-1, 4-3 ECACHL) 28-23 and was within two goals or less for the first 39:45.
“This is a little bit more difficult than the losses we were taking earlier in the season,” said sophomore defenseman Bill LeClerc, who scored one of Yale’s goals. “[Before] we were just playing poorly. [Tonight] we played well the first two periods and then struggled to put it together to win the game.”
Princeton, on the other hand, was disappointed in its lack of discipline. Numerous penalties set the team back, and Yale was 2-for-8 on the power play.
“We’re not disciplined now,” Head Coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We’re not playing smart hockey, which is really surprising to me because they’re such incredibly bright individuals. … I am surprised that we can’t do a better job with staying out of the box.”
Concerned about the Tigers’ parade to the penalty box, Gadowsky called a time out at 7:40 of the second period after Tigers forward Kevin Westgarth went off for holding the stick, Princeton’s fifth straight penalty.
“We just got to bear down and be more disciplined,” said defenseman Luc Paquin, who had four assists.
Soon after the penalty expired, Bulldogs forward Blair Yaworski went in on a breakaway on Princeton goalie Eric Leroux, but Leroux closed the five-hole in time for Yaworski’s shot.
At 11:04, with Princeton on its first power play of the night, Yale goalie Peter Cohen kept the Tigers off the scoreboard when he stoned Sproat with a glove save. Sproat skated away, shaking his head.
“I thought Peter played excellent for us,” LeClerc said.
Yale killed off the penalty uneventfully, but things would not go as smoothly on their next penalty kill, as Sebastian Borza zipped a shot from the slot past Cohen to open up a 3-1 Princeton lead.
And with 15 seconds to go in the period, Tigers forward Keith Shattenkirk scored off the rebound of a Paquin shot for his first collegiate goal. It gave Princeton a stranglehold on the game, and the tally stood up to be the game-winner.
In the third period the two teams traded goals. Tigers defenseman Mike Moore scored his first collegiate goal at 3:48 on the power play. His shot from the point sailed through a sea of players before reaching the net.
Bulldogs defenseman Rob Page responded with a first goal of his own. While on the power play, he received a Joe Zappala pass and shot the puck from the top of the circle, tucking it just inside the left post at 10:40.
Then at 14:56, Tigers’ Neil Stevenson-Moore picked up a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble and backhanded it into the net for his third goal in three games and his fourth point in four games.
“Our first four games we had one line that was doing everything, so we all challenged ourselves to do something,” Stevenson-Moore said. “It felt really good to get a couple of goals. It’s a big relief.”
Top scoring forward Christian Jensen rounded out the scoring for Yale at 18:29. His goal from a quick shot from the slot was assisted by junior forward Nate Jackson.
Princeton’s top scorers got off to a quick start. Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, tied for first on the team in scoring with 15 points, rushed down the left wing on a breakaway, deked and beat Cohen on the backhand at 9:45. The sophomore finished the game with a goal and two assists, and Paquin got his first of four assists on Goeckner-Zoeller’s goal. Paquin’s 1.67 points per game is tops among the nation’s defensemen.
“As a defenseman, you don’t need to put rockets on net,” Paquin said. “You just try and get it there and create some rebounds for the forwards. You’re going to get your bounces.”
“Luc’s been great all year,” Gadowsky said. “He is a very intelligent hockey player and plays like he loves the game. He’s fun to watch.”
Yale got some offensive momentum later in the period, creating several quality scoring chances on the power play with Dustin Sproat off for holding the stick at 11:59. However, Leroux held the Bulldogs off the scoreboard, allowing Princeton to later open up a 2-0 lead.
Paquin took a slap shot from the hash marks; Cohen slowed the puck, but it trickled through his legs and lay in the crease. Sproat, the ECAC Player of the Week, deposited the stationary puck into a wide-open net for his eighth goal of the season at 17:42.
But Yale regrouped, as Moore went to the penalty box for interference just 14 seconds after the goal. The Bulldogs capitalized on the power play at 19:00 as Shawn Mole passed the puck across the slot to LeClerc, who one-timed it past Leroux to cut the lead in half.
Westgarth almost answered for Princeton 10 seconds later, but his shot from the top of the circle rang off the pipe.
Princeton and Yale will face each other again on Saturday in New Haven, Conn. Yale hopes so split the home-and-home series.
“We’re obviously struggling in a lot of areas,” Bulldogs Head Coach Tim Taylor said. “We haven’t had any wins. I was proud of our work ethic and our effort, and we didn’t quit. We have to keep at it.”
The Tigers will look to not repeat their mistakes. They acknowledged that Yale may make them pay for it next time.
“They worked really hard,” Paquin said. “They got all over us in the first period. They’re in a rebuilding situation right now, but we can’t take them too lightly. If we give them a chance to gain some confidence they could surprise anybody. They’re hungry for a win right now.”
“I think they’re going to be fine because they have some very skilled players,” Gadowsky said of Yale. “They have some speed, and it seems like they’re getting a bad bounce here and there that happens to be killing them at a wrong time. Once the puck starts rolling their way they can be a dangerous hockey team.”
“I’m very curious to see how we come out,” Gadowsky said.