PRINCETON, N.J. — Sophomore forward Darroll Powe scored two goals, including the game-winner, as Princeton (5-10-1, 4-6 ECACHL) opened its six-game homestand with a 4-2 win over American International (1-10-1, 1-5-1 Atlantic Hockey) at Hobey Baker Rink.
“It’s good to get a win here at home,” Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky said. With the victory, the Tigers equaled last season’s win total and broke their six-game losing streak, with all games played away.
“We’re not in a bad position. It’s tough to win on the road, and I thought we played some good games on the road,” Gadowsky said. “We’re back at home and it’s basically an opportunity to show that we have learned and we have gotten better, and this only starts us off.”
Powe tallied the game-winning goal unassisted when he skated down the left wing and zinged a shot from the circle that clanged against the inside of the post and crossbar and fell in the net at 7:16 of the third period making it 3-1.
AIC defenseman Preston Cicchine sliced the lead to one when his shot from the left faceoff circle sailed over Tigers goalie Eric Leroux’s shoulder and in with exactly two minutes to go, but the Tigers sealed the win 44 seconds later when forward Grant Goeckner-Zoeller set up his linemate Dustin Sproat for a one-time show from a pass across the score.
The Yellow Jackets then pulled their goalie for the extra skater, but neither team scored, despite the efforts of Powe’s teammates to set him up for a hat trick.
“It’s great to see because he’s such a hard-working guy,” Gadowsky said of Powe’s two-goal performance. “You got to love when guys who work very hard get rewarded, and he’s one of those. If you look at him and the skills he has and the shots he takes in practice, you wonder how he doesn’t have more goals. It’s just a matter of time for him that they go in.”
Meanwhile, AIC is winless in its last seven games. But the team remains upbeat on the season.
“We’re pretty even keel right now,” said AIC goalie Frank Novello. “We came into the second semester, we looked at it as we were back even, no wins, no losses, no ties, we just looked at it as a whole new season. We’ve lost just one of our new season. We have 18 more games left to play. We had a pretty positive outlook on tonight’s game. We worked hard.”
Powe broke open a scoreless tie for the Tigers while on the penalty kill, taking a Mark Masters pass and backhanding it over Novello at 5:15 of the second period.
Princeton then used its skill to create two good scoring chances, but it would take a good bounce and an opportunistic forward to double the lead.
At 5:52, with the Tigers still shorthanded, junior defenseman Brian Carthas had a breakaway but shot it wide. Then at 8:00 sophomore forward Grant Goeckner-Zoeller received a pass in the slot and shot it off the crossbar.
Finally at 12:23, a Carthas shot trickled by Novello and lay behind him, an inch away from the goal line. After a few anxious seconds for Novello, who didn’t know where the puck was, Princeton sophomore Kevin Westgarth was able smack the idle puck into the open net for his second goal of the season.
“Those things happen,” Novello said. “You just have to forget them and move on. … We came back and we started fighting real hard after that one.”
Indeed, the Yellow Jackets cut the lead in half five minutes later as sophomore forward Neil Sullivan picked up a Mark Fuqua pass across the slot and deposited it into a wide open net. Sullivan, a walk-on, marked his first collegiate goal with an exuberant celebration. “It was very exciting,” Sullivan said.
The game was scoreless after the first period, with the teams trading power plays and scoring opportunities. The Tigers outshot the Yellow Jackets 15-8 and had several good chances in close; however, AIC came close to scoring with about 20 seconds to go when freshman forward Greg Genovese shot the puck from the slot, and goaltender Eric Leroux had to be sharp with a kick save.
“I thought Eric Leroux played well,” Gadowsky said. “He didn’t have a lot of work but he had some important work.” Leroux made 26 saves for the game.
Novello, whose .926 save percentage entering the night was ranked seventh in Division I and second in Atlantic Hockey, started his 12th consecutive game for the Yellow Jackets and finished with 33 saves.
Princeton continues its six-game homestand against Clarkson while AIC hosts Holy Cross, both games on Friday.