Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 53
 
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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BREAKING OUT: Princeton University men’s hockey defenseman Jody Pederson, right, controls the puck in recent action. Last Monday, Pederson chipped in a goal and an assist as No. 8 Princeton topped 17th-ranked Minnesota State 5-2. Pederson’s output extended his scoring streak to four games and gave him seven points on the year with two goals and five assists.

With Defenseman Pederson Providing a Spark, PU Men’s Hockey Comes Back With a Bang

Bill Alden

Coming off its holiday break last season, the Princeton University men’s hockey team absorbed a 6-1 beating at Minnesota State.

The memory of that setback was on the minds of the Princeton players last Monday as they hosted Minnesota State in their first game since December 3.

“It was definitely said in the dressing room before the game that we need a little payback,” said Princeton junior defenseman Jody Pederson as he reflected on the matchup between No. 8 Princeton and the 18th-ranked Mavericks.

Pederson helped the Tigers even the account with Minnesota State as he scored a second period goal and then added an assist in the third period to help Princeton to a 5-2 win before a crowd of 1,652 at Baker Rink.

Dan Barlett scored two goals to lead Princeton with Brett Wilson and Derrick Pallis adding one apiece as the Tigers improved to 11-2 on the season.

While the Princeton players may have brought a little extra emotional motivation into the game, Pederson was concerned with how they would execute after such a long layoff.

“Coming out of Christmas break, you are always a little unsure about what to expect,” said Pederson.

“I think we came out pretty well; we had a lot of legs. We needed them tonight; they are a good team. They came out hard too; they threw the body around on the forecheck. It was a test out there for us; I think we reacted pretty well.”

The Tigers reacted well from the opening face-off, outshooting Minnesota State 16-10 in the first period and taking a 1-0 lead on Bartlett’s first score.

Early in the second period it looked like the Tigers might turn the game into a rout as Pederson scored on a power play at the 1:55 mark and Pallis followed suit with a brilliant one-timer to the top shelf on another extra man situation less than three minutes later.

For Pederson, his goal was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. “We had the puck in deep and Brett Wilson had the puck on the half wall there,” recalled the 6’3, 195-pound Pederson, a native of Smithers, B.C.

“He always has his head up, looking for guys to pass to. I sort of snuck in the back door there and he made a fantastic pass there. It was basically on my stick on the ice and went off my stick into the net.”

Minnesota State, though, wasn’t about to get blown out, answering the Tigers with a shorthanded goal late in the second period and a power play score in the second minute of the third period.

Even though the Tiger lead had been shaved to 3-2, the Princeton players weren’t shellshocked.

“I think we were OK on the bench,” said Pederson. “We had a quiet confidence; we knew we would be alright. We just had to get back to our game, doing what we do well and going after them.”

The Tigers did just that as Bartlett responded with his second goal of the evening and then Pederson threaded a nice pass across the crease which Wilson converted for Princeton’s fifth goal.

Having scored in four straight games with six points in that stretch, Pederson acknowledges that he is trying to make a solid contribution on that end of the ice.

“I definitely think about staying more involved,” said Pederson, who now has seven points on the season with two goals and five assists.

“I am staying with the play and jumping up; just trying to contribute any way you can. I guess that is what everybody is trying to do.”

Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky likes the contribution he is getting from Pederson.

“Jody has been a tremendous player all year long,” asserted Gadowsky. “His best offensive plays often happen in our zone; he’s just a very good hockey player. He can shoot the puck and he has tremendous vision. You saw it today on his goal from Willie [Wilson] and the goal to Willie; those were tremendous vision plays from a smart hockey player.”

The Tigers needed a tremendous effort to outlast Minnesota State, a WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) stalwart which was 8-7-3 entering the game.

“I thought we had some jump but I tell you what, that is a great team we played,” said Gadowsky, whose team outshot the Mavericks 42-33 on the night.

“They are fast, they are tough. I thought it was an excellent hockey game to watch.”

The bomb from freshman defenseman Pallis in the second period was an excellent demonstration of his skill.

“That was as good a shot as you are going to see all year; it was a bomb that went top shelf when we needed it,” said Gadowsky.

“That wasn’t luck. You could see him looking right there and he put it exactly where he wanted to. He just keeps getting more and more confidence. He’s fun to watch now; I can’t imagine what he is going to be like when he gets a little more strength to him.”

Princeton was also sparked by the strong commitment displayed by sophomore forwards Kevin Lohry and Matt Arhontas.

“Kevin Lohry made two huge blocks,” said Gadowsky. “Those are things you wonder if guys are going to do right away and he answered that question. I thought Matt Arhontas won battles in the corner and won races to the puck. He came out with pucks in tough situations. Those two guys sent a message that they are ready to go, maybe sooner than we thought.”

The Tigers were looking to send the Mavericks a message after getting drubbed last winter in the meeting between the teams.

“There were a lot of guys that remembered what happened last year in Mankato,” said Gadowsky, whose team was slated to play No. 16 Nebraska-Omaha on December 30 before hosting Harvard on January 3 and No. 20 Dartmouth on January 4. “They wanted to prove to them, at least, that we were not who they saw last year.”

In Pederson’s view, the Tigers have proven that they are a team to reckon with.

“We don’t have a first line; we have four lines,” said Pederson. “Everybody can go, everybody can score. I think that is why we do so well and why it is hard for other teams to play us. The scoring comes from all over.”

And with Pederson picking up his scoring, the Tigers are that much harder to beat.

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