SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union was hoping to get off to a good start in ECAC Hockey play this season. Instead, the Dutchmen find themselves off to another slow beginning.
The Dutchmen had no answers for solving 12th-ranked Princeton on Saturday. The Tigers got two power-play goals, and goalie Zane Kalemba stopped the first 26 shots he faced in a 4-1 victory over the Dutchmen at Messa Rink.
The Dutchmen, who lost to Quinnipiac, 6-3, Friday, fell to 1-3 in ECACH play, and 4-4-1 overall. This wasn’t the start that Union coach Nate Leaman or his players envisioned. They were hoping to avoid a start similar to last year, when the Dutchmen were 1-4-2 in their first six league games.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole,” said Leaman after the Dutchmen got swept at home in ECACH play for the first time since losing to Colgate and Cornell in the final weekend of the 2005-06 season. “We’re not playing well. We’re not playing smart right now. It’s up to us to get ourselves out of it. I believe we’ve got the right guys in the room to do it.”
Expectations were high for the Dutchmen following their fourth-place finish last season. They were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches poll, and sixth in the media poll.
So far, those expectations aren’t being met.
“We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Union forward Jason Walters, whose goal with 2:34 left in the game helped the Dutchmen avoid getting shut out. “We’re not playing hockey as a team. We’re just playing undisciplined right now.”
Union didn’t help itself by giving Princeton (4-1, 5-1) nine power-play opportunities. The Dutchmen have given up 32 power-play opportunities in their four league games, and allowed seven goals.
“We have to stop taking so many poor penalties,” Leaman said. “We’re taking a lot of selfish, poor penalties right now. When you do that, you’re using way too much energy on the kill, and you’re not going to win games when you take all those poor penalties.”
The two power-play goals the Tigers scored didn’t involve reigning ECACH Player of the Year Lee Jubinville and his linemates, Brett Wilson and Cam MacIntyre.
Fourth-line right wing Sam Sabky got the first one late in the first period. Defenseman Taylor Fedun scored the second one with 7:42 left in the third, making it 3-0.
In between those goals, third-line center Mark Magnowski had an even-strength goal. Matt Arhontas scored a short-handed, empty-net goal with 1:53 remaining in the game.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.