While losing twice in the season-opening Ivy Shootout didn’t hurt the Princeton University men’s hockey team as the games didn’t count in the ECAC Hockey standings, it gave the Tigers a taste of what they will be facing this winter.
“It is an indicator of how the league is going to be this year,” said Princeton head coach Bob Prier.
“Game in, game out, it is going to be a dogfight. There is a lot of parity and little margin for error.”
In falling 2-1 to host Brown on October 26 and 3-2 to Yale a day later in the event, Princeton made some key errors.
“Both games were pretty similar,” recalled Prier. “We made some poor decisions on penalties. We had some lapses and our foes cashed in on some opportunities.”
The Tigers did see Tyler Maugeri cash in as the sophomore forward notched a goal in each game.
“Tyler had a couple of goals; it is nice to see that,” said Prier, who also got a goal from Andrew Calof in the defeat to Yale. “We know guys like Calof and [Jack] Berger are going to score; it is good to see
others contributing. We know we have the weapons up front; we have a nucleus of guys who can put it in.”
Prier liked the work he got from his guys along the blue line and from senior goalie Mike Condon.
“We limited opportunities defensively better than we did last year so that was encouraging,” added Prier.
“Mike did what he had to. He had a .926 save percentage in the first game; you are going to come out with a win most of the time with that save percentage. I was pleased with how he played.”
The Tigers were hoping to have the opportunity to get some extra work in this week during fall break but Hurricane Sandy changed those plans.
“Originally we had planned for this to be a big week for work,” said Prier, whose team didn’t have any games scheduled last weekend.
“We had a lot of bumps and bruises so we let the guys get away and go home and heal up. We will come in on Saturday and Sunday ready to go and work hard.”
With Princeton opening ECACH play this weekend by hosting fourth-ranked Cornell (3-0-1 overall, 1-0-1 ECACH) on November 9 and Colgate (4-4-1 overall, 0-1-1 ECACH) the next day, Prier knows his team faces some hard challenges.
“The season is short so this is important; we definitely need to start well in the league,” said Prier.
“We are looking at two tough league opponents just like last weekend. We have learned from penalties and lapses in mental focus. We have some positives to build on; we had the puck a lot.”
In Prier’s view, doing more with that puck possession is critical as the Tigers look to produce a positive start in league play.
“We have to do better in front of the goal,” noted Prier. “We are going to work on the power play quite a bit; we have to make that a threat. With the parity in the league, special teams can make the difference. You look at the box scores and you see where the team that went 2-of-5 on the power play was the team that came out on top. We have the clientele to have a strong power play and hopefully we can do that.”