PRINCETON, N.J. — Each time Union closed in on tying Princeton Saturday night, something would go wrong.
First, the Tigers scored two goals. The other time, the Dutchmen were whistled for two straight too many men on the ice penalties.
The Dutchmen couldn’t overcome those obstacles, and dropped a 4-3 ECAC Hockey decision to the Tigers at Hobey Baker Rink.
“We weren’t playing solid defense,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We were cheating a lot tonight. We did everything well, all the little details [in Friday's 4-3 win at Quinnipiac]. The guys wanted to cheat tonight. They wanted a softer game, they wanted an easier game and we can’t do that against Princeton because they work so darn hard.”
The Tigers (4-4 ECACH, 5-5 overall) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Brett Wilson and Lee Jubenville. The Dutchmen (1-3-2, 3-6-2) got one of those goals back 2:36 into the second period when Josh Coyle fired a wrist shot from the left circle over goalie Zane Kalemba’s glove on the power play.
However, 1:03 later, Wilson came in on a breakaway and put a wrist shot under goalie Corey Milan’s right arm to make it 3-1, and Mark Magnowski made it 4-1 when he fired a wrister from the slot over Milan’s right shoulder.
“Giving up those goals when we were already down, especially after we scored, it was kind of tough to take,” Dutchmen captain Matt Cook said.
Cook started the Dutchmen on the comeback trail when he scored 52 seconds into the third period. Driving to the net, Cook redirected a Jason Walters pass from the right circle past Kalemba.
Mario Valery-Trabucco made it a one-goal game midway through the third, one-timing an Adam Presizniuk feed from the right circle into the net.
Presizniuk had a chance to tie it with 7:43 remaining. Coming out from behind the net, he had Kalemba down, but Kalemba stacked his pads and stopped the shot.
“I told them, the only way we’re going to get back into this game is to start to do the little things well,” Leaman said. “They started doing those things well. With that, they had a number of opportunities. We cashed in on a couple of them, but we hit a couple of posts and we didn’t cash in on the rest of them there.”
Union had another chance to tie it when they got a power play after Wilson was called for high-sticking with 4:13 left. Instead of taking advantage of it, the Dutchmen beat themselves by taking consecutive penalties for too many men on the ice.
“The first one, we had a guy who was brain dead on the bench,” Leaman said. “There’s really no excuse for it. The second one, the coaching staff told the boy to jump. They had a three-on-one situation. It wasn’t a player’s fault there.”
The players held a 10-minute meeting after Leaman had his say with them. The message was clear.
“We’ve got to learn from this weekend,” Cook said. “One out of two [wins] is not good enough for us. We can’t be turning it on and off. We have to be consistent the whole game.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.