PU Men’s Hockey Gets Off to Promising Start As Senior-Laden Team Shows Poise, Resilience
With the Princeton University men’s hockey deadlocked 2-2 with Dartmouth in overtime last Friday in the season opener, Tiger forward Tucker Brockett found the puck on his stick in the crease.
Taking advantage his scoring chance, junior Brockett rifled the puck into the net to give Princeton a 3-2 victory and tally his first career goal.
“It was Tucker’s first goal but if you saw the goal you would never know it,” said Princeton head coach Bob Prier.
“He did a good job of getting his hands free and showed tremendous poise putting it on the top shelf. It was a goal scorer’s goal.”
The Tigers showed poise throughout the weekend as they hosted the 2013 Liberty Hockey Invitational at the Prudential Center in Newark, following the win over Dartmouth with a tough 3-2 loss to defending national champion Yale.
“We were playing good systematic hockey for the first weekend,” said Prier. “The resilience is good. We are playing shift to shift, that is the sign of a veteran team. It is a game of momentum and the key is how you react when you don’t have the momentum. We are showing more poise when the other team is on the power play or gets a goal.”
In the win over Dartmouth, Princeton seized the momentum, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by senior captain Jack Berger and freshman Ben Foster.
“Berger’s goal was huge for us; it was a power play goal,” said Prier. “The special teams were good all weekend, we were 5-for-5 on the kill and the PP was 38 percent and we can clean up things even more.”
More importantly, Prier liked how his team responded when Dartmouth scored two third period goals to force overtime.
“I think the advantage of being a veteran team and having gone through the ups and downs is just that,” asserted Prier, whose roster includes nine seniors.
“They had an unflappable mindset, it is what it is. It is bonus hockey and it is still our game. We scored early in OT.”
While Princeton fell 3-2 to Yale on Saturday, Prier liked the mentality exhibited by his players.
“We are breaking down the film and we played really well,” said Prier, who got goals from Tyler Maugeri and Andrew Ammon in the setback. “Yale had only three odd-man rushes and scored on two of them. They have a bit of a swagger. We played desperate in the third period when we needed to. We are resilient.”
Senior goalie Sean Bonar displayed some resilience over the weekend, making 38 saves in the win over Dartmouth and recording 27 saves in the loss to Yale.
“I was really happy with Bonar; he was unflappable,” said Prier of Bonar, who has a save percentage of .929 on the season.
”When your goalie is playing loose and controlling his rebounds, that goes a long way in making the whole team feel loose. Sean has matured tremendously.”
“There were flashes from everyone, everyone was trying to make plays,” said Prier.
“We didn’t play nervous. We didn’t dump the puck and when we had time, we handled it well. We need to play quicker out of our zone when we have possession of the puck.”
Princeton will be looking to make some big plays this weekend as it heads north for games at 19th-ranked Cornell on November 1 and at Colgate a day later.
“Every weekend is tough,” said Prier. “You look at the results from last weekend and hands down, we have the best league in the country. Cornell is really strong, they swept Nebraska-Omaha last weekend and they will be flying. We need to put pressure on them and really go after them.”