PRINCETON, N.J. — No. 8 Princeton used three power-play tallies to top No. 17 Minnesota State by a 5-2 count before 1,652 tonight at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink. It was Princetons first game since a 4-1 win here over Quinnipiac on Dec. 3, while Minnesota State had been off since a 5-2 loss to Denver on Dec. 13.
Zane Kalemba stopped 31 shots for the host Tigers, while Mike Zacharias had 37 saves for the visiting Mavericks. Princeton (11-2-0) finished 3-for-7 with the man advantage, while Minnesota State (8-8-3) recorded both a power-play goal and a shorthanded score despite registering its fifth straight defeat. The two teams combined for 16 minor penalties.
“This was a good test right off the bat,” said Princeton junior center Dan Bartlett, who scored two goals in his teams return to action.
“Our guys remembered last year,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky of last seasons 6-1 setback to the Mavericks in Mankato. “Were not who they saw a year ago.”
The Tigers, who again wore their orange third uniforms, took a 1-0 lead with 5:09 left in the opening period on Bartletts third goal of the season. The junior center curled around the top of the left circle towards the slot, and then wristed the puck past Zacharias on the stick side as Sam Sabky and Matt Godlewski collected assists on the play.
“There was a lot of traffic in front,” said Bartlett. “I think he (Zacharias) was moving across to see through the screen, and I snuck one in on the short side.”
The Mavericks best chance out of their three first-period power plays came with 50 seconds remaining before intermission. Rylan Galiardi took a feed from the left corner and one-timed a shot for the far post, but Kalemba kicked out his left pad to make the save.
Princeton then utilized a pair of power plays of its own to score twice less than five minutes into the second stanza. Just 12 seconds after MSUs Andrew Sackrison was sent off for tripping, Jody Pederson snuck down from his left point position and chipped home a cross-ice pass from Brett Wilson at 1:55 for the junior defensemans second score of the season. Pederson also extended his personal point-scoring streak to four games.
The Tigers then made it 3-0 after MSUs Trevor Bruess took a penalty for roughing just a minute after the Pederson goal. Princeton captain Brandan Kushniruk came out from behind the net and tried to jam the puck past Zacharias at the right post, but the senior made a pad save. The rebound slid out into the left circle, where freshman blueliner Derrick Pallis teed it up and blasted the puck past Zacharias on the glove side at 4:31.
“That was a bomb to the top shelf,” said Gadowsky.
MSU finally broke through shorthanded after Channing Boe was tabbed for interference at 17:36. Geoff Irwin grabbed a loose puck at the left point in the Maverick zone and then outraced the Princeton defense to the other end, where he wristed an in-close shot past Kalemba on the glove side at 18:52 for his sixth marker of the season and first goal since Nov. 28.
The Mavericks then got within a goal 3:07 into the third session on a power-play tally by freshman Mike Louwerse. Galiardis backhander at the right post was stopped by Kalemba, but the puck dropped to the ice and slipped over to the far post as Louwerse circled the net to tuck it home for his team-leading ninth goal.
Princeton, though, regained its two-goal advantage at 5:44 when Bartlett again beat Zacharias from the left side for his second of the night to make it 4-2, with help from Godlewski.
“I think we caught them in transition,” recalled Bartlett, who notched his first career two-goal collegiate game. “Their defense backed up and I got across, pulled the puck in, and used them as a screen. I tried to get it through, and it went in.”
The Tigers made it 5-2 on Wilsons third of the campaign, and first since Nov. 8. Princetons power play struck for the final time on the evening, this time in a 4-on-3 situation, as Wilson took up residence at the far post and redirected in a set-up from the right circle by Pederson, with the other assist going to Taylor Fedun.
“We did a tremendous job of buckling down a bit,” said Gadowsky. “After they got within 3-2, I thought we played pretty well.”
MSU then buzzed around the Princeton cage for the remainder of regulation and generated several scoring chances, but Tyler Thompsons wrister from the right circle clanked off the near post with four minutes left. Bruess deflected in a high puck with 1:19 left, but did so with his glove and it was waved off. The Tigers wound up outshooting the Mavericks, 42-33.
“I think MSU has a great hockey team, and theyll beat a lot of good teams,” said Gadowsky in casting a cautious eye towards the NCAA Tournament. “By March, this could be a big thing for us, and some of our biggest games may happen just after the break.”
“Its always good to play teams of high quality,” added Bartlett.
Princeton hosts No. 15 Nebraska-Omaha Tuesday night to close out the calendar year, while Minnesota State will visit Yale.