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After falling to his mentor, 5-3, Princeton coach Len Quesnelle didn’t take much to a stroll down memory lane. He had other things to worry about, like his team’s inability to compete with Don Cahoon’s UMass squad five-on-five.
“For me it was obviously a first,” Quesnelle said. “It definitely gave me an appreciation for what he is trying to do.”
After spotting Massachusetts (8-5-0) a four-goal lead, the Tigers (1-10-0) managed to make a game out of it, scoring on three consecutive power plays in the second and third periods. But in the end the Minutemen’s talent edge saw them through to their third straight victory over an ECAC opponent.
“We would have been satisfied just playing a close checking game and cruising in for the win,” Cahoon said. “But you can’t just cruise in college hockey. They got a few power plays and had the soft hands to take advantage and next thing you know it was a game.”
Princeton took advantage of two straight five-on-three power plays, getting goals from Chris Owen and Mike Patton to cut a 4-0 deficit in half. Owen’s tally came on a textbook exchange as Matt Maglione beat his defender and slid a cross-crease pass to Owen for the goal.
Patton followed just two minutes later when another goalmouth feed from Brian Carthas found him all alone on the right circle.
The Minutemen still held a two-goal lead entering the third thanks to goals from four different players, but the momentum was in Princeton’s hands.
“I knew that first goal in the third was going to be crucial,” Cahoon said. “If we score that makes it 5-2 and that could’ve have changed the complexion of the game.”
But it was the Tigers that struck first out of the intermission. On a broken clearing attempt Seamus Young faked a shot from the slot, putting goalie Tim Warner on his back and fed Sebastian Borza who slid it into the yawning net for a power play goal.
Borza’s second score of the season cut the UMass lead to one with over 15 minutes to play and intensified a game that once lacked any vigor.
Princeton totaled six shots in the final period including a pair of chances that squeezed through the crease.
“We got lucky, just flat out lucky,” Cahoon said. “With the puck laying in the crease like that. Though we’ve been the victim of some bad luck at times so its nice to have it go our way.”
Backup netminder Tim Warner made 11 saves on 14 total shots, though he stood tall when he had to. Princeton goalie Nate Nomeland, however, was kept busy by a UMass attack that has scored 18 goals in its last three games.
Nomeland made 25 saves on 29 shots but was twice victimized by the potent line of sophomore Greg Mauldin and freshmen Matt Anderson and Stephen Werner. The trio has been virtually unstoppable since being put together for Tuesday’s game against Vermont. So was the case against Princeton as they combined for two goals and seven points on the afternoon.
It was a fourth liner, however, who got the game winner when Peter Trovato banged in a rebound at 6:04 of the second period. Rookie Steven Jacobs intercepted a clearing attempt and fed classmate James Solon for a slapshot that Nomeland parried away. An opportunistic Trovato then swooped in and fired the rebound past a sprawled Nomeland.
Princeton will host Harvard and Brown next weekend while UMass will start and home-and-home with Boston University.