PRINCETON, N.J. — Perhaps it was Brett Wilsons 100th career point. Maybe it was Matt Godlewskis three assists. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the pink-trimmed black uniforms that 10th ranked Princeton University wore to commemorate the ECAC Hockey Leagues Coaches vs. Cancer Pink at the Rink promotion.
Yeah, Ill put in a request to wear those again, laughed Wilson of the special jerseys following his two goal, one assist performance on Friday evening.
Whatever the reason, the host Tigers outlasted Brown University, 4-1, before a crowd of 1,540 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink for their fifth win in their last six games and their seventh straight victory over the visiting Bears, who suffered their eighth straight setback overall.
I thought we played well, and I give our guys credit, said Brown coach Roger Grillo, but we made a couple of mistakes, and Princeton capitalized.
Freshman goaltender Mike Clemente finished with 43 saves in defeat for Brown (2-20-4 overall, 2-14-2 in the ECAC), while junior netminder Zane Kalemba notched 25 stops for Princeton (19-7-0, 13-6-0). The Tigers outshot the Bears, 47-26, while the two schools combined to go scoreless on a total of seven power-play attempts.
I thought both goalies played well, and I thought it was a well-played game, clean and entertaining, said Grillo. I wish we could have gotten rewarded better, but thats the way it goes.
Princeton jumped on top at 11:47 of the opening period, with top scorer Wilson doing the honors. Cam Ritchies shot from the right side was stopped by Clemente, but Wilson was right there on the doorstep to put the rebound home for his eighth of the year.
I dont think we played our best, but you still have to try to win games when you dont, said the senior from Calgary.
Willy showed what he is, said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. Hes such a competitor. He had a tremendous game, and we needed that tonight.
The physical play picked up in the second period, as Clemente was shaken up in a goal-mouth collision with Princeton forward Cam MacIntyre; but the rookie netminder shrugged it off and stayed in the game. The score remained unchanged until the second half of the stanza, although Brown had a terrific chance to tie things up with 11:07 left as Harry Zolnierczyk came in late for a clear shot from the right slot, only to see Kalemba glove the puck.
Zane made some big saves to give us a chance when it was 1-0, said Wilson.
The Princeton goaltenders teammates repaid him for his efforts at 13:12 of the middle session. Wilson carried the puck down the right wing to the hash marks, and then fed linemate Lee Jubinville as he skated down the slot alone. The senior forward then shifted wide to his left and wristed a shot between Clemente and the left post to put Princeton up by two and also lift Wilson into the colleges century club with his 100th career point.
It feels special to do it with my parents here, said Wilson. I got here with some good linemates, in Grant Goeckner-Zoeller my first two years and then Lee Jubinville, and they made it easier for me.
The visiting Bears, though, clawed their way right back into the contest less than a minute later. Aaron Volpattis shot from the right side through traffic clinked in off the far post at 14:33 for his fifth of the season, with assists going to Matt Vokes and Jeff Buvinow.
Wilson later tipped a shot just wide of the right post with 1:38 left before intermission.
Early in the third period, Matt Arhontas stole the puck at the Princeton blueline from Brown defenseman Mike Stuart and headed up ice all alone. The sophomore cut to his backhand in close, but Clemente made a pad save to keep the Bears within a goal.
Vokes took a short pass at the Princeton blueline and would have been in all alone on his own breakaway with 13:23 left, but the play was ruled offside.
When we made a mistake, Princeton pounced on it, said Grillo. On the flip side, we didnt capitalize on their mistakes, and that was the difference in the game.
I thought we played well, said Gadowsky. Brown played tenacious defense.
Wilson regained Princetons two-goal cushion with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation after Browns Jarred Smith had been banished for elbowing at 10:25. The Tigers milled about in front of the Brown net, looking for a loose puck following a shot by Kevin Kaiser, before Wilson barreled in and put it home just before he was upended into the end boards, one second after the power play had expired.
If you want to score, you definitely have to go to the net, said Wilson. Kevin was battling and got a shot, and the goalie was down and I was fortunate enough to get it.
A guy like Willy just keeps going and finds a way, said Gadowsky. Its fun to watch.
Kalemba stopped Zolnierczyk point-blank on a one-timer with just over four minutes left, before Tyler Beachell closed out the scoring by hitting an empty Brown net with 12 seconds remaining, as Godlewski notched his third assist of the night.
Wilson and Jubinville will take their last regular-season home skate at Baker Rink along with senior captain Brandan Kushniruk on Saturday night when the Tigers host league-leading Yale.
Its gone too fast, said Wilson of his four years at Princeton, which will likely include one more playoff round at home. It will be emotional to go through it with those two guys, and its been special.