PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton had to wait until the very end in its regular season-opening contest, but the wait was sure worth it.
Tyler Beachell put in a power-play rebound at 1:16 of overtime to lift the No. 9 Tigers to a 1-0 victory over ECAC rival Brown University in a non-conference meeting before a weekday afternoon crowd of 1,035 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
“Tyler actually got it,” laughed Princeton winger Marc Hagel, to whom the goal was originally credited, afterwards. “I swiped at it after he did.”
The goal came just five seconds after Brown’s Jesse Fratkin had been whistled for interference.
Both Zane Kalemba and Mike Clemente finished with 31 saves apiece, with Princeton’s Kalemba recording his 50th career victory in the shutout. The two teams went a combined 1-for-8 on the power play.
“It’s a big NCAA game for us, because every game counts,” said Kalemba. “It’s a good start to the season with a win.”
The Tigers and Bears went through a feeling-out process in a first period where Princeton had 10 of the 12 shots on goal. The highlight came in the final minute, when Princeton forward Kevin Kaiser jumped on a loose puck in front of the team benches and skated in alone down the right side for a shot from the slot, but Clemente made the pad save.
The offense picked up in the middle period, as Brown outshot Princeton, 16-11, although the contest remained scoreless. Princeton defenseman Jody Pederson’s shot from the left point hit the left post just 17 seconds into the second stanza while the Tigers were working on a power play. Less than four minutes later, Kalemba made one of his first solid stops of the afternoon, denying Chris Zaires on a shot from the right circle.
Clemente made two saves back-to-back with 7:26 remaining, the first on Mike Kramer’s try from the goal line and the second a point-blank stop on Kevin Lohry on the rebound. Kalemba got a glove on Jordan Pietrus’ shot from the right circle with 3:07 left, and then Clemente made a right pad stop on Cam Ritchie’s shot from the right point seconds before the buzzer sounded.
“I thought Brown played extremely well,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. “With a new coach, you don’t know what to expect.”
“I thought it was great,” said new Brown coach and former player Brendan Whittet of his debut. “I was in my element, and it was great to be behind the bench for Brown University, which is a place I absolutely love.”
The two schools were mostly relegated in the penalty-free third period to long-range shots that either sailed wide or that the goalkeepers saw all the way.
That trend continued until roughly four minutes remained, when Kaiser pulled the puck to his right in the slot and then thought he had put it over Clemente’s glove, but the sophomore netminder made the stop. Clemente then gloved Taylor Fedun’s slap shot from the right point seconds later.
“He’s a hell of a good goalie,” said Whittet. “He’s calm and doesn’t give a lot of second and third opportunities, and he’s one of the elite guys in the country.”
Kalemba got a shoulder on Marc Senecal’s wrist shot from the slot with 3:35 left in regulation before Beachell’s heroics in the extra session, keyed by Pederson’s shot from the point and Hagel driving to the net.
“Hagel made a nice play,” said Gadowsky. “He hit a crossbar earlier, and it’s nice he got a second chance.”
“It’s not the end we wanted, but it’s a long year,” said Whittet. “I’m pleased with the way our guys competed, how they played aggressively and intelligently, and how they executed a lot of good things.”
Princeton will now host Yale on Halloween night in a non-conference tilt, while Brown will entertain Ontario IT in an exhibition matchup.
“It’s another chance to get better,” said Whittet. “We’re seeking excellence, and it’s a process.”