As the Princeton men’s hockey team gears up for the last weekend of the season, very little remains to be determined. Having lost both games last weekend, the Tigers have no chance at getting home ice in any of their playoff games. Since every team goes to the playoffs, however, they are still guaranteed a playoff spot.
As Princeton prepares for this weekend’s action, its objective is to sharpen the axe for the battle ahead and gain some momentum in an effort to make a run for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League (ECACHL) championship.
The Tigers (9-16-2 overall, 6-12-2 ECACHL) will visit Providence, R.I., Friday night to take on Brown (3-18-6, 2-14-4), and New Haven, Conn., Saturday evening to face Yale.
Though it may seem as though the regular season is virtually over for Princeton, the Tigers know how important it is to win these last two games.
Statistically, Brown, Princeton and Yale are the three worst teams in the ECAC. In the same way that stringing together a couple of wins could create momentum for the Tigers as they lead into the playoffs, a loss to either of these teams could prove to be an enormous confidence killer. For this reason, Princeton will be taking these games as seriously as they have every other game this season.
The Tigers have faced off against Brown only once so far this season. I n early Ja nuary, the Bears came calling in Baker Rink, and played Princeton to a 2-2 tie in overtime. Brown has played in ten overtime games this season, but recently is in a slump, dropping 11 games in a row.
The Tigers’ recent history against Yale is even less inspiring, as the Elis thrashed Princeton by a score of 6-1 in the two teams’ only other contest this season.
That meeting came on the Orange and Black’s home ice at Baker Rink, in the first game of their Ivy League season. After an early goal by junior forward Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Yale went on a six-goal tear to close out the game.
For the Tigers, this weekend is all about making any last minute adjustments and focusing on correcting weaknesses before it becomes too late.
Having beaten some of the best teams in the league and the country this season, Princeton knows that it has the ability to hang with any team in the country on any given night. Despite having lost three of their last four games, the Tigers have been right on their opponents’ heels in each of the losses, sending all of those games into overtime.
From here on out, Princeton will have to focus on winning when it counts. The Tigers have shown time and again that as a team, they can bring things together and produce a win. All they need to do now is string a couple of those wins together.
Though it has proven its ability to hang with the best teams in the league through regulation, Princeton has yet to win a game that is sent to overtime. The Tigers seem to be losing the mental game and will need to work on maintaining focus through regulation and into overtime play if they would like to be successful.
The action begins Friday at 7 p.m. against Brown and continues Saturday at 7 p.m. against Yale.