Heading to the Sunshine State as it returned to action after the holiday break, the Princeton University men’s hockey team competed last weekend in the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla.
But while the clouds remained over Princeton as the Tigers lost twice at the competition in falling to 3-14 overall, there were rays of hope coming out of the weekend.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Princeton head coach Bob Prier, reflecting on his team’s effort.
“We played with more pace. We generated a lot of chances. We ran into a hot goalie on Saturday and had penalty problems on Sunday. As the weekend progressed, we competed better. We did a better job of staying above checks. We had a lot of offensive plays on the rush; the defense did a good job on the breakout.”
In its opening round contest against Maine on Saturday, Princeton lost 4-0 to the Black Bears, even though it was only outshot 36-33.
A day later against New Hampshire in a consolation contest, Princeton jumped out to leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by Mike Ambrosia and Aaron Kesselman, respectively, only to lose 3-2. In battling the Wildcats, the Tigers were sparked by a superb performance from senior goalie Sean Bonar, who made a career-high 43 saves.
The return of senior star Andrew Calof from injury helped the Tigers as he assisted on Ambrosia’s goal and was a threat all weekend long.
“I think the line of Calof, Ambrosia, and [Ryan] Siiro generated half of our chances, they definitely made an impact,” said Prier.
The play of goalie Bonar gave Princeton the chance to stay in the New Hampshire game. “Sean played very well, 15 or 16 shots were on the power play and he did a good job of fighting through traffic to make some of those saves,” said Prier. “He did a good job on rebound control.”
In upcoming action, Princeton heads west to Vancouver to take part in the Great Northwest Showcase where it will play non-NCAA games against Canadian schools, Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia, on January 2 and 3.
In Prier’s view, the trip should help the Tigers come together as they look to do some damage in their ECAC Hockey stretch drive.
“We have four guys with roots out there,” said Prier. “We are playing two good teams. I think the guys feel better about the way we are playing as we go into the second half.”