Senior forward Brett Wilson scored two goals and set up another as No. 8 Princeton emerged with a 5-1 victory tonight over ECAC rival Harvard before a standing-room crowd of 2,250 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
It was the first meeting between the two schools since Princeton’s 4-1 triumph in the 2008 ECAC Championship Game in Albany last March. The Tigers have now taken three of their last five encounters with the Crimson, who have gone winless in their last 10 outings overall this season.
Zane Kalemba finished with 18 saves for Princeton (13-2-0, 8-1-0 ECAC), while Matt Hoyle recorded 27 stops for Harvard (4-10-2, 4-5-2 ECAC) before Ryan Carroll stopped all nine shots he faced in relief for the Crimson.
“Zane made some huge stops,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. “It may only say 18 saves on the books, but I’ll tell you what, he made some big ones tonight.”
Princeton took the lead just 90 seconds into the contest, as Marc Hagel scored his third of the season. Lee Jubinville’s try from the left side was stopped by Hoyle, and the puck remained loose in front until Hagel swept it into the open right side of the net from his knees. Wilson also assisted on the play to push his personal point streak to three games.
The Crimson tied it up less than seven minutes later, as Eric Kroshus centered a pass from the left corner into the high slot and Michael Biega’s slap shot from between the circles went up and over Kalemba’s glove to make it 1-1.
The Tigers went back on top at 11:11 on the power play when Dan Bartlett connected at the left post off set-ups from Taylor Fedun and Jody Pederson. The goal was Bartlett’s fifth of the year and third in his last three outings, while Pederson extended his own point string to six games.
Princeton appeared to make it a two-goal game with just under seven minutes remaining in the opening period after Sam Sabky’s shot from the slot was stopped by Hoyle. The puck caromed up into the air and back down, where it was knocked in by a Princeton player, but officials waved the goal off on account of a high stick.
The Tigers got their third goal early in the second stanza while killing off a hooking penalty to Fedun. The puck squirted loose at the right point in the Princeton zone, and Wilson raced away to deke and beat Hoyle in close on the stick side at 3:25 for his fourth goal of the season and second score in three games.
“I came in and saw he was playing deep,” said Wilson. “I saw a small hole on the blocker side, and I threw it in the corner.”
“We had a couple of power-play rebounds, but then they get the short-handed goal, and instead of 2-2, it’s 3-1,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato.
Wilson and Jubinville had just missed converting on a short-handed rush moments before when Wilson’s pass from the left circle wound up in Jubinville’s skates as he tried to set up for a one-timer.
Princeton then had several chances while skating a man down several minutes later, after Pederson went off for tripping, but couldn’t put the puck away. Pier-Olivier Michaud returned the favor when Harvard was whittling away a penalty of its own, as he picked off a Princeton pass in the neutral zone and stood all alone. He skated in on Kalemba and tried to put the puck between his pads, but the Princeton junior turned him away.
“That breakaway stop was massive,” said Gadowsky.
“We had some good opportunities, like the short-handed breakaway,” said Donato. “Princeton made plays and deserved to win, and they outplayed us in stretches, especially in the third.”
It was Hoyle’s turn to come up big with just a handful of seconds remaining before the second intermission. Mark Magnowski’s outlet pass from the right boards at the Princeton blue line sprung Matt Arhontas on the far side, and he went in and let go with a shot from the left circle that Hoyle stopped. The puck popped up high, but Arhontas couldn’t tap it out of the air as it came down before the buzzer sounded.
Wilson made it a 4-1 game with 11:23 remaining when his pass from the left circle instead rebounded into the net off of a Harvard player with 20 seconds remaining in a tripping infraction charged to Alex Biega.
“I saw Pederson coming in and tried to feed him, and it went off their defenseman and in,” said Wilson, who was set up by Pederson and Hagel. “We’ll take what we can get now.”
“You take away the two goals, and Brett still played one of his best games,” said Gadowsky. “Guys who play all-around games get rewarded, and that was the case with him tonight.”
Sabky tacked on his fourth of the season at 11:21 with help from Derrick Pallis and Bartlett to close out the scoring, with Bartlett sending Sabky in alone for the goal that ended Hoyle’s night and brought in Carroll to finish up.
“We didn’t give ourselves or Matt great opportunities,” said Donato. “We gave up too many shots and odd-man rushes, but we’re not pointing fingers at individuals.”
It was a different feeling on the other side, where Princeton is averaging nearly 40 shots on goal per game and has scored five goals in each of its last three contests.
“The biggest thing is that we’re playing the same way as last year,” said Wilson. “We want to finish as high as we can, because anything can happen in the ECACs, and we want to get back to the NCAA Tournament any way we can.”
Princeton will entertain No. 20 Dartmouth tomorrow afternoon, while Harvard is off until it hosts Brown on Jan. 9.
“It’s disappointing,” said Donato, whose team has suffered seven straight defeats. “We have to regroup and take a long look at ourselves, and see how we can get out of this.”