Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 50
 
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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STREAK BREAKER: Princeton University men’s hockey forward Kevin Lohry streaks up the ice in recent action. Last Saturday, Lohry notched the game-winning goal as Princeton edged ninth-ranked UMass Lowell 3-2 and snapped a six-game losing streak. The Tigers, now 7-8-1 are on holiday break and will return to action when they compete in the Florida College Classic on December 29 and 30 in Estero, Fla.

Princeton Men’s Hockey Overcomes Adversity, Enters Break With Big Win Over Mass-Lowell

Bill Alden

Over the last month, the hockey gods have not been smiling on the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

Coming into a two-game set last weekend at ninth-ranked UMass Lowell, the Tigers had lost five straight games after getting off to a 3-2-1 start.

During the course of the slump, the Tigers had been hit with various forms of adversity.

“We have had injuries, goals getting called back, and we have been taking penalties that we may not have gotten in the past,” lamented Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky, noting that he has been playing recent games at least two players short. “Things can snowball.”

But as the woes have mounted, the Tiger players haven’t cursed the hockey gods.

“They haven’t lost optimism or confidence,” asserted Gadowsky. “They are intelligent guys and they know we are just going through a tough time. It’s not ‘Oh gee, we are not a good team.’”

In the opener of the set against Mass-Lowell on Friday night, the Tigers gave a glimpse of how good they can be in the first two periods as they played the River Hawks to a 1-1 stalemate.

“In the first period we didn’t generate a lot of shots but we didn’t give up a lot,” said Gadowsky, whose team took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Dan Bartlett.

In the third period, however, the Tigers did give up three unanswered goals as they fell 4-1.

Once again, a bad break helped doom Princeton. “The goal that killed us came when Cam Ritchie took a shot from the point and his stick broke and they got a two-on-one,” said Gadowsky.

A day later, the Tigers seized the momentum by jumping out to a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game as freshman forward Eric Meland scored twice in a 10-second span.

Gadowsky was thrilled to see Meland get his first two career goals.

“Meland has been close offensively; we have been telling him to stay the course,” said Gadowsky of the 6’0, 190-pound native of Grand Forks, N.D. who was later named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week for his efforts. “It was a great game to break through.”

The Tigers had to overcome another bad break in order to get their third goal. Midway through the second period, Princeton appeared to have extended its lead to 3-0 when junior Kevin Lohry scored on a breakaway but the goal was disallowed when it was ruled that the puck crossed the line after the net came off the goalposts.

Mass-Lowell scored early in the third period to cut the lead to 2-1 but then Lohry got a goal that counted as he stole a clearing pass and blasted the puck home.

The perseverance shown by the Tigers and Lohry impressed Gadowsky.

“That was one of the best goals of the year, Kevin beat a defenseman wide,” said Gadowsky, referring to the tally that was waved off.

“Not only did the team not lose focus, Kevin came back and got a goal. He’s battled through injury and he’s finally feeling better. He is an important part of our team; he does a lot of things for us besides goal scoring.”

The River Hawks got a second goal later in the period but couldn’t get another tally as Princeton senior goalie Zane Kalemba produced one of the best-ever efforts, making a career-high 45 saves to help the Tigers hold on for a sweet 3-2 win.

“Zane was Zane,” said Gadowsky of his All-American netminder who was named as the ECACH Goalie of the Week.

“It’s tough to win in college hockey with just good goaltending; you need great goaltending. There are so many one-goal games and good goaltenders around. Zane was better than great in that game.”

All in all, it was great for the Tigers to snap their six-game losing streak. “It was one of the best wins we have had since I have been here; beating a team ranked in the top 10 in their barn with the lineup we had,” asserted Gadowsky, whose team enters its holiday break at 4-8-1 overall and 2-6-1 in ECACH play, good for ninth in the league standings. Hopefully it will make things better.

“Beating a team ranked in the top 10 in their barn with the lineup we had. Hopefully, it will make things better.”

One thing that makes Gadowsky feel slightly better is that the Tigers’ struggles have come early rather than down the stretch.

“It is December, not February,” said Gadowsky, whose team will practice this week and then be off from December 18-28. “I hope guys can get healthy over the break.”

The Tigers will face a big challenge when they return to action as they will be competing in the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla. The Tigers will play perennial power Maine (currently 9-7-1) on December 29 and will then take on either Colorado College (11-4-3) or Cornell (7-2-2) the next day.

With a little better treatment from the hockey gods, Gadowsky believes his team can hold its own in Florida.

“If we can play four lines and six defensemen, we will be alright,” said Gadowsky.

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