No. 8 Princeton struck four times on special teams to continue its winning ways with a 5-1 triumph over No. 15 Nebraska Omaha before 1,393 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
It was the Tigers’ third straight win in as many years against UNO, and their fifth victory in five meetings all-time with the Mavericks.
Zane Kalemba made 27 saves for Princeton (12-2-0) in notching his 12th win of the season, while Jerad Kaufmann finished with 21 stops for UNO (12-5-3). The Tigers collected two power play goals and two shorthanded tallies in winning for the 11th time in their last 12 outings, despite being outshot (28-26) for the first item since Nov. 21.
“We generated a lot of chances, but we didn’t always finish,” said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky afterwards. “You have to give Zane credit, he came up with some big saves when it mattered.”
Princeton came up empty on two consecutive power plays in the first three minutes of play, but the Tigers then struck shorthanded for the game’s first goal after Dan Bartlett was sent off for goalie interference at 5:39. Mark Magnowski sprung Matt Arhontas out of the Princeton end, and Arhontas carried the puck into the UNO zone before feeding a trailing Taylor Fedun. The sophomore skated in and whipped a wrist shot from the right circle past Kaufmann on the glove side at 6:11 for the defenseman’s second score of the season.
“It was an unbelievable game by Fedun, both offensively and defensively, and he scored a tremendous goal to get us going,” said Gadowsky.
The Mavericks knotted matters late in the opening session after Princeton’s Sam Sabky was banished for interference at 17:56. Kalemba stopped Eric Olimb’s one-timer from the slot with 90 seconds left, before Magnowski just missed deflecting in an Arhontas pass on Princeton’s ensuing counterattack. UNO then came down and set up in the Princeton zone, where Alex Hudson’s pass from the left corner went out to Nick Van Bokern, who was stationed in the middle of the blueline. The sophomore defenseman’s slapper went through a screen in front and past Kalemba with 22 seconds left for Von Bokern’s fourth goal of the campaign.
The Tigers responded early in the second period to regain a one-goal advantage. Cam Ritchie carried down the left side and backhanded the puck across the slot, just as Arhontas crashed the net with a defenseman on him. The disk glanced off the Tiger skater and through Kaufmann’s pads to put Princeton back up at 1:11 on Arhontas’ fourth of the year.
“Princeton played very well,” said UNO head coach Mike Kemp. “They’re very opportunistic, and they play hard.”
The Mavericks went on a two-man advantage when Fedun and Jody Pederson were sent off 46 seconds apart; but Kalemba made three saves, including one where he stretched out to deny John Kemp at the left post, shortly before Kemp himself was penalized for tripping.
“Zane made the huge saves look easy,” said Gadowsky. “The turning point was the 5-on-3.”
Princeton then began to press offensively, and four seconds before John Kemp’s minor expired, the Tigers made it a 3-1 game. Mike Kramer’s shot from the high slot was partially blocked, but the puck caromed off the right post and back the other way where Magnowski rapped it in at 18:26 for his team-leading seventh score. Pederson garnered the other assist to extend his point streak to five games.
“It’s not like we didn’t have opportunities,” said Mike Kemp. “We outshot them in the last two periods, but we didn’t capitalize on the 5-on-3, and that was a key situation.”
The Tigers weren’t done, as Lee Jubinville caught up to a dump-out in the neutral zone ahead of the UNO defense late in the period. The senior center then skated into the slot and scored on Kaufmann’s glove side just 11 seconds before intermission. It was Jubinville’s second goal of the year, and first since Oct. 31.
“Brett Wilson won the faceoff, and Pederson flicked it out over the defenseman’s head,” said Jubinville, who was relieved to get back into the scoring column. “I skated to it as hard as I could and managed to bury it.”
The two teams then played through a physical if nearly scoreless third period. Princeton picked up a two-man power play of its own with 2:35 left that was reduced to a 4-on-3 when Brandan Kushniruk was caught tripping with 1:57 left. Jubinville then redirected home a Fedun pass from the right circle just 54 seconds later to close out the scoring, with Wilson picking up the second assist on the play.
“It was a great look by Fedun,” said Jubinville. “I had my stick on the ice, and he made a great pass. I didn’t have to do much.”
Princeton will continue its eight-game homestand this weekend against ECACHL rivals Harvard and Dartmouth, while UNO will drop in on Minnesota State on Saturday night.
“We’ve got four ECAC games left before exams,” said Gadowsky. “Starting Saturday, it’s time to get after it.”