Coming into last Saturday’s game against visiting Dartmouth, Jeremy Goodwin hadn’t scored a goal for the Princeton University men’s hockey team since tallying against Sacred Heart on January 25, 2011.
The junior defenseman picked a good time to find the back of the net again, scoring the game-winning goal as Princeton edged the eighth-ranked Big Green 2-1 before a record crowd of 2,711 at Baker Rink.
For Goodwin, the goal was the reward for some hard work. “I got the puck on the boards there and I just kept my feet moving,” recalled the 6’5, 230-pound Goodwin, a native of Hamilton, Ontario.
“I blew past the defenseman and brought it out front and got a couple of rebounds and I got lucky to get the second or third rebound and get it in. It has been a while.”
For Princeton, which topped Harvard 3-2 in overtime on Friday, it has been a while since it had such a good weekend. The Tigers ended 2012 by going 0-4-3 in their last seven games of the year.
“We really wanted the sweep here,” said Goodwin, reflecting on the win which improved Princeton to 5-7-4 overall and 4-3-3 in the ECAC Hockey standings, good for second place behind front-running Quinnipiac.
“This was a big opportunity for us to take out one of the top teams in the league and all we had to do was play our game and that’s how we win games.”
In the early going on Saturday, it looked like Princeton might be heading to a weekend split as it fell behind Dartmouth 1-0, getting outshot 11-3 in the first period.
“We had a bit of a slow start but halfway through the period I think we started moving our feet again and getting pucks deep and that is what we are all about, getting in there and playing our game down low,” said Goodwin.
“Dartmouth has trouble down low as defensemen and we took advantage of that in the second and third period.”
The Princeton defense, on the other hand, had no trouble containing the Big Green over the final two periods.
“We stressed all week staying on the defensive side of our checks and that’s what led to our success,” explained Goodwin.
“They didn’t really get anything in the slot or any good chances. They had a lot of outside shots and that’s what we were trying to do.”
The duo of Goodwin and senior star Michael Sdao, a 6’4, 220-pound bruiser who scored Princeton’s other goal in the win over Dartmouth, has helped keep Tiger foes out of the slot.
“I think we are probably the biggest defensive pairing in the league,” said Goodwin.
“We try to keep our game simple and we feed off each other. We are really good at moving the puck defense to defense and moving the puck up the ice.”
Goodwin put in some extra work before the season to help him move better on the ice.
“I worked really hard over the summer to improve my speed and footwork and that has really made me feel more comfortable skating instead of just moving around,” said Goodwin.
Princeton head coach Bob Prier was proud of the way Goodwin worked to get his big goal.
“That was really good to see, Jeremy has been playing pretty well here the last few games,” said Prier.
“He has earned it. He is a big guy in a big body and he has to continue to play that way. He is 6’5, 230 pounds and he has some silky smooth hands. There is nothing wrong with him taking it down the boards and taking it to the net. It is something he can do more frequently.”
Prier is pleased to see the pairing of Goodwin and Sdao take things to Princeton’s foes.
“I think it was playing with a ton of emotion and passion but not to the point of desperation where the guys started to think that they had to sway from their own responsibilities. I think that’s what really has gotten us in trouble as of late.”
Senior goalie Mike Condon kept Princeton out of trouble on Saturday, making 34 saves in the contest, including several in a last-minute Dartmouth flurry.
“Mike Condon had a great game but if you look at the shot chart and where the shots came from, he made some big saves but there was not anything, second or third opportunities right down the gut of the ice,” said Prier. “He was the MVP of the game, no doubt.”
It was a great day for the program as it celebrated the 90th anniversary of its first game in the Baker Rink.
“It is certainly a testament to our guys, the way that they carry themselves and treat people within the community and on campus,” said Prier, reflecting on the record crowd that packed the venerable arena.
“People really root for them. They go out of their way to be involved with local schools, they go out of their way to always put a smile on and have fun with things at Skate with the Tigers. I think that people think they are class acts and they come out and support them.”
Princeton will be looking to give its fans more to cheer about this weekend as it hosts No. 16 Union on January 11 and Rensselaer on January 12.
“Momentum is the key factor; every single game in this league is such a difficult game and it is a game of momentum.” said Prier.
“I think they understand that now with winning and progressing and continuing to win games. They understand that in the context of the game too, with the subtle turnover, the poor penalty. They understand the consequences and they understand how to get momentum too.”
Goodwin, for his part, is confident that Princeton can build on the momentum from the weekend sweep.
“For sure, it is nice to be at home again with the supporting crowd,” said Goodwin.
“We have a nice home weekend next week and we are going to feed off the momentum we got this weekend and have a good week in practice and hopefully get another couple of wins next weekend.”