LOWELL, Mass. — Princeton scored two goals ten seconds apart in the first, and netted one in the third to earn the Tigers a much needed win over the No. 9 Mass.-Lowell River Hawks before a crowd of 2,697 stunned fans at Tsongas arena.
The story of the game was the performance by Tigers’ goaltender Zane Kalemba making a career high 45 saves. He looked liked the Hobey Baker nominee from a year ago, making hard saves look routine.
Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky was not surprised by the performance of his veteran goaltender.
“That’s Zane; what you saw tonight, we’ve seen several times before. He is an extremely mentally tough kid, and when things get hairy, he just seems to be in control, and that is what you saw tonight.”
Kalemba came into the game just wanting to play hard and give his team a chance to win.
“I think I wanted to go out and give the guys a chance to win, and I know it was going to be a lot of traffic [in front], just trying to fight and see the puck, I just wanted to stay focused the whole 60 [minutes].”
Gadowsky talked about the confidence his team can gain from a win against a ranked opponent while facing adversity.
“I am hoping it does a lot; that always remains to be seen, but this is a big win for us against an excellent hockey team. I think we can look back on this and hopefully (gain) at least a lot of confidence that we can fight through some adversity and come out on top against a great team like Mass.-Lowell.”
The first period of the game was a mirror image of Friday night’s game; the only difference was that the Tigers skated off with a two-goal lead instead of a one-goal lead.
It all started when River Hawks’ forward Sam D’Agostino was whistled for a hooking penalty 2:55 into the first period.
Princeton took full advantage of their first power-play opportunity. Eric Meland (two goals) notched his first collegiate goal when he wouldn’t quit down low, getting rebound after rebound. On his fourth attempt, he finally got the puck over the left pad of Nevin Hamilton (27 saves). The goal came at 4:13 of the first.
Ten seconds later, Meland notched another goal. He took advantage of a defensive lapse by the River Hawks and shot the puck near the goal line, beating Hamilton.
Lowell again struggled in the first; they had their opportunities, but couldn’t bury them.
In the second period, Princeton thought they had a three-goal lead when Kevin Lohry came down on the right side of the ice, and, using his weight to hold off a Lowell defensemen, came across the crease and snuck the puck by the stretched out pad of Hamilton. However, the net came off its moorings as the puck crossed the line.
The play was reviewed upstairs and it was disallowed because the net was knocked off at the same time the puck went in.
Lowell finally broke through in the third when Riley Wetmore put in a rebound that was shot by Chris Ickert. Wetmore, standing unmarked in front of the net, got the puck and reached around Kalemba, placing it by his left pad.
Princeton did not let that goal break their backs though, responding with the eventual game-winner by Lohry with a blistering shot from the center hash marks, beating a screened Hamilton to make it 3-1.
The River Hawks pressed right back with a goal by Kory Falite, who tipped a shot that went far post at 9:28 to make it 3-2.
Lowell head coach Blais MacDonald thought his team had many opportunities to score, but credits Princeton’s team defense and the spectacular show put on by Kalemba.
“As the game went on, we had many glittering opportunities that we couldn’t convert on; you have to credit their team defense for some big blocked shots, and their goaltender was phenomenal.”
Lowell (10-6-1 overall, 5-4-1 Hockey East) does not see action again until January 2 when they travel to Hanover, N.H. for the Ledyard National Bank Classic to take on Holy Cross at 4 p.m.
Princeton University (4-8-1 overall, 2-6-1 ECAC) plays next on December 29 in the Florida Foliage Classic, taking on Maine at 4 p.m.