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Vol. LXIV, No. 47
 
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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CREASE CONTROL: Princeton University men’s hockey goalie Mike Condon controls the crease last Friday night against Harvard. Sophomore Condon posted the first shutout of his college career in the contest, making 36 saves as the Tigers blanked the Crimson 1-0.

Featuring Its Mike and Mike Show, PU Men’s Hockey Edges Harvard 1-0

Bill Alden

The Mike and Mike in the Morning sports talk program has become a staple of the ESPN weekday lineup over the years.

Last Friday night, the Princeton University men’s hockey team produced its own Mike and Mike show as it hosted Harvard.

Senior forward Mike Kramer scored Princeton’s lone goal while sophomore goalie Mike Condon made that tally hold up, recording 36 saves in a 1-0 shutout win before 2,072 at Baker Rink.

For Kramer, his role in the show centered on sparking the up-tempo style that Princeton favors.

“We came out the way we wanted to, with a lot of speed, rolling all four lines and putting a lot of pressure on,” said Kramer, a 5’10, 200-pound native of St. Paul, Minn.

“We really stressed getting pucks deep and running our forecheck all week in practice and I think we executed that really well in the first period.”

Kramer’s line which also includes classmate Matt Arhontas and freshman phenom Andrew Calof, had been executing well.

“Andrew Calof is getting off to a good start here,” said Kramer, who has seven points this season on three goals and four assists with Calof having tallied a team-high 11 points and Arhontas having chipped in five.

“He is a good playmaker, he opens up room for us. I have been playing with Matt Arhontas off and on for four years. We were roommates last year; we have some chemistry together. All in all things are clicking and we are getting chances and some of them are going in. It is fun to play with those guys.”

It was fun for Kramer and the Tigers to beat Harvard. “They ended our season last year,” said Kramer, referring to Harvard’s 2-0 sweep of Princeton last season in the opening round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs.

“It is always nice to beat Harvard; they are a good hockey team. It is just nice to come up with a big win and a shutout for Mike Condon. He played tremendously.”

Boston-area native Condon, for his part, was primed to take a star turn in the game against the Crimson.

“I grew up practicing at Harvard on Monday and Tuesday nights on my junior team,” said Condon, who had a 2.44 goals against average last season in five appearances.

“Growing up, I lived five minutes away from there. Tonight was a little bit special playing these guys. This shutout is going to go in the memory banks. I’ve got the puck and the stick; I am going to enjoy it for the moment.”

Condon enjoyed finding an early rhythm in the win over Harvard which was the first shutout of his college career.

“I think I had a big save that really helped get me going,” recalled Condon. “My goal in every game is the first shot is always the hardest; you get that shot out of the way and you kind of get in a rhythm from there.”

The Princeton defense helped keep things out of Condon’s way. “The guys made it easy tonight; I could see everything and they kept a lot on the perimeter,” said Condon, who has a 1.68 goals against average this season for 4-4 Princeton which fell 3-2 to Dartmouth on Saturday.

“The guys put out a great effort. This is the best team I have ever been on in terms of blocking shots. Everyone is willing to sacrifice; guys are stopping pucks with their faces.”

In the third period, Condon got hit in the head as he thwarted a Harvard flurry in the crease.

“It was a little rough; Harvard was crashing the net a little bit,” said Condon. “I was trying to help get a whistle for the guys. I got a little contact on my head and I wasn’t feeling too good but that is hockey for you.”

The 6’2, 195-pound Condon is feeling good about being part of a three-headed goalie rotation along with freshman Sean Bonar and senior Alan Reynolds.

“Right now, Bones, Rennie and me are battling together,” said Condon. “We are having a good time in practice; we are all eager to help the team out. It is whoever coach feels more confident in that night. We have got three pretty good goalies here so if it is going to be this way the rest of the year, I am going to be pretty happy with that.”

Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky was happy to see his team survive the stiff challenge posed by Harvard.

“You know Richter [Harvard goalie Kyle Richter] is going to be unbelievable and it is going to take a near-perfect goal to beat him and that is the only one we got,” said Gadowsky, whose team was 4-2 in ECAC Hockey play after the weekend, trailing third-ranked Yale (7-1 overall, 4-0 ECACH).

“This is typical ECAC hockey, it really is. You have to have the mindset that these are the types of games that you have to win. If you look across the league, more often than not, that is the type of game it is going to be.”

Gadowsky certainly liked the game he got from Condon. “He had a shutout; I can’t fault him too much,” said a smiling Gadowsky. “When you have a 36-shot shutout, you tend to look at one guy.”

Princeton is giving foes a different look with its three-man rotation between the pipes. The trio has combined to give up 2.36 goals a game.

“If it is not broke why fix it,” said Gadowsky, who had Reynolds between the pipes in the loss to Dartmouth.

“We are just going to keep going; we are not surprised at all with it. They are all fantastic guys and very good teammates.”

Gadowsky is also not surprised to be getting good production from the line of Kramer, Arhontas, and Calof.

“All three are excellent players; all three are smart players,” said Gadowsky, whose team has averaged 31.6 shots and 2.2 goals a game. “Right now they have some synergy going.”

With the Tigers having won four of five games after a 0-3 start, Gadowsky believes his team is developing some collective synergy.

“Every one of them has been a one-goal game,” said Gadowsky in assessing his team’s recent hot streak.

“We certainly have a long way to go but I think we are also a lot further ahead than we were in our exhibition games. With the number of freshmen that we have, you might expect a steep learning curve. We still have a lot of steps to take; I think we are on the right path.”

In Kramer’s view, the Tigers are headed in the right direction. “In the spurts where we have done really well and have been successful, we played the style that has made us a top contending team in the nation a couple of years back,” said Kramer, who now has 61 points in his Tiger career on 25 goals and 36 assists.

“We are freewheeling and putting the pressure on offensively but taking care of the puck and playing strong defense. We are starting to do that more consistently. Once that is a given, we’ll be where we want to be. It is early on so we have plenty of time to develop it. As long as we keep making strides, I think we will be a contender come playoff time.”

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