PRINCETON, N.J. — Kelly Zajac and Andrew Buote scored two goals apiece to lead No. 17 Union College to a 7-3 victory tonight at Princeton University.
Union (11-4-5, 5-0-3 ECAC) won its third straight game, while Princeton (6-9-2, 3-7-1 ECAC) saw its four-game unbeaten streak end.
The host Tigers continued their season-long wounded ways and dressed only 17 skaters for the contest, including just three centers, but Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t pin the loss on injuries.
“We were beaten by a harder-working, better team,” he said. “The score was pretty indicative.”
Keith Kinkaid made 37 saves for Union, which was outshot 40-33. Alan Reynolds finished with 26 stops for Princeton, including 13 saves in the first period alone.
“The fact that we were able to win kind of shows what we can do, but we have a lot of respect for Princeton,” said Union coach Nate Leaman. “They put so many pucks on net and shoot a lot on the first touch, and fortunately Keith was able to stand tall.”
Both teams scored their first goals when their opponent was unable to clear the puck out of their own defensive zone. Princeton broke on top at 8:19 when rookie defenseman Michael Sdao kept the puck in at the left point and fired a shot that beat Kinkaid on the stick side.
Union responded at 10:58, as Buote jumped on a loose puck in the right circle and wristed a shot past Reynolds on the far side, after John Simpson had kept the puck in the Princeton end.
The Dutchmen then went ahead for good early in the second stanza. Zajac took a pass from Greg Coburn and skated into the left circle and held the puck for a few moments before his wrist shot beat Reynolds stickside at 4:17.
Jason Walters then made it 3-1 three minutes later with his 12th goal of the year, as he put home his own rebound off a scramble in front of the Princeton net.
“We knew to generate offense, we needed to get some traffic in front,” said Leaman.
The Tigers got back within a goal with the teams skating four-on-four, after Union’s Brian Yanovitch and Princeton’s Matt Arhontas were sent off 10 seconds apart for boarding and interference, respectively. Princeton defenseman Taylor Fedun dropped down from the point and cut through the low slot, right to left, before he put a backhander up into the top of the net at 17:55 to make it a 3-2 affair. Mark Magnowski drew the lone assist on the play.
Princeton then got into penalty trouble, taking a pair back-to-back, and it cost the Tigers with just under a minute left in the period. Union’s Mario-Valery Trabucco took a pass from Mike Schreiber at the right point in a five-on-three power-play situation and skated to his right before letting go with a shot through a screen that found the back of the net at 19:09 for his 11th goal.
“You have to work for your breaks,” said Gadowsky. “When you don’t have the puck, you tend to take more penalties, and that’s what happened.”
The Tigers weathered the rest of the two-man disadvantage in the third period and again closed the gap to one, as leading scorer Dan Bartlett snuck one past Kinkaid from the right circle at 8:24 for his team-best 12th goal, assisted by Eric Meland.
The Dutchmen then responded with back-to-back tallies to put the game away. Zajac converted a breakaway pass from Buote at 11:46, and Stephane Boileau blasted home a one-timer from the left circle at 12:19 on a power play, assisted by Simpson and Coburn, for a 6-3 lead.
“‘Bootsie’ made a great play,” said Zajac. “He made a tape-to-tape pass, like he always does.”
Princeton pulled Reynolds several times for an extra attacker in the closing minutes, but Buote closed out the scoring on an empty-netter with 59 seconds left.
“We have a good group of guys,” said Zajac. “We believe in each other.”