Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 2
 
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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JUST GETTING BY: Princeton University men’s hockey senior forward Mark Magnowski scoots by a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, Magnowski picked up an assist as the Tigers fell 4-1 to Rensselaer. The loss dropped the injury-plagued Tigers to 6-10-2 overall and 3-8-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

Princeton Men’s Hockey Falls 4-1 to Rensselaer; Injury-plagued Tigers Aim to Recharge Over Break

Bill Alden

Mark Magnowski is used to being one of the guys among the nine seniors on the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

But with a rash of injuries hitting the Tigers, Magnowski has been carrying on this season without such key classmates as Jody Pederson, Cam MacIntyre, and Kevin Kaiser.

“It’s definitely different,” said senior forward Magnowski. “It is the first year of my four years here that we have had this many guys out of my class injured.”

With a total of six players currently out due to injuries and several others having been sidelined at various points, the Tigers have been unable to get into a winning groove this season.

As Princeton’s six sidelined players watched from the press box of Baker Rink clad in suits last Sunday, the Tigers’ struggles continued as they fell 4-1 to Rensselaer before a national television audience on ESPNU and a crowd of 2,112 on hand.

The difference in the game came down to special teams play as RPI converted on four-of-eight power plays while Princeton went zero-for-seven in man-up situations.

“The refs were calling it both ways and we just didn’t adapt as they did,” said Magnowski.

“We were taking some penalties; obviously we should have had our heads in it more to not take those penalties. On our penalty kill, the bounces were going their way. They were getting a lot of pressure on our goal and got a couple of shots through. Bounces didn’t go our way when we were on the power play. They were pressing really hard and we have to find a way to get more pucks on the net.”

Magnowski helped the Tigers press ahead in the third period, assisting on a Mike Kramer goal as Princeton narrowed the gap to 3-1 with 14:37 remaining in regulation.

“We wanted to come out and kill off that penalty to start the third and we did,” recalled Magnowski, who has 10 points this season on three goals and seven assists.

“We were getting momentum; we were finally playing our game. We got a nice break and I passed it out to Kramer and he made a nice shot. We sure had momentum going our way but again we had to stay out of the box. Penalties came back and really bit us.”

Indeed, the Tigers surrendered a power play goal with 2:47 left in the contest which essentially snuffed out any hope of a dramatic rally and dropped them to 6-10-2 overall and 3-8-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

Coupled with a 7-3 loss to No. 17 Union last Friday, the defeat to Rensselaer left the Tigers with a sour taste in their mouth as they head into exam break.

“It was a tough weekend but we didn’t play too badly,” said Magnowski.

“We played against two excellent hockey teams. Union is a very hard working team. They have been that way for a couple of years; they are playing the way we try to play. Now they have a lot of skill on their team. They are really good, RPI as well. We have to make sure we stay out of the box the next time we play them.”

Magnowski reluctantly acknowledged that the Tigers are ready for some time off.

“We are not going to use that as an excuse but the break is going to be really nice to get a lot of guys healthy,” said Magnowski. “When we get back, hopefully we can get a full roster and start making the final stretch towards playoffs.”

In Magnowski’s view, the team should adopt a clean slate point of view when it returns to action on January 25 with a home game against Connecticut.

“We are going to think of it as a new season,” asserted Magnowski, who now has 70 points in 117 career appearances for the Tigers. “We want to get some wins together and make a run at it. We definitely want to be a team that other teams are scared to play in the playoffs.”

In order to be formidable again and move up from their current eighth-place spot in the ECACH standings, the Tigers need to be themselves. “I think we just have to stick to our game plan,” said Magnowski.

“Last year, I think we were lowest in the nation in penalties per game and so we definitely have got to get back to that. We have got a lot of skills. If we keep playing our game, getting the puck to the net and getting pucks behind the defense, pucks are bound to go in for us.”

While that will clearly call for a collective effort, Magnowski believes he and his classmates have to lead the way.

“We have got good younger classes; everybody has been stepping into their roles,” added Magnowski.

“I feel we have nine leaders in our class, any one of them can be leading our team. I feel our senior class is a group of leaders.”

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