February 25, 2008

M. Icers drop second contest of weekend to Ivy-leader Princeton

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“Rollercoaster ride” doesn’t even begin to describe the ups and downs the men’s hockey team has experienced as the regular season reaches its end and the stakes get ever higher. Despite a thrilling over-time victory against Quinnipiac the night before, the Red (13-11-3, 11-8-1 ECAC Hockey) struggled to hit its stride on Saturday night against the Princeton Tigers (17-10-0, 14-6-0), suffering a 2-1 loss in Hobey Baker Rink.
“It was good that we beat Quinnipiac, but we needed to come out with that same energy and same focus that we had in Friday night’s game and bring it into the Princeton game on Saturday,” said senior co-captain Raymond Sawada. “I think until we do that we are going to still have problems. It’s not something difficult to fix, its just personally coming prepared. Every team needs to make improvements and that’s the one thing that we need to do.”
Although the Red should have been soaring from their hard-fought win against Quinnipiac, the first period against Princeton revealed a puzzling lack of the energy and spark necessary to compete against an aggressive, confident Princeton squad. The Tigers gained decisive control of the game in the first period and broke down the Red defense with less than nine minutes left on the clock. Unable to answer back, the Red let the remainder of the period expire with Princeton winning, 1-0.
“We wanted to bring a lot of the momentum that we had coming from the overtime win into the game against Princeton,” Sawada said. “But we didn’t come out with a lot of energy in that game and it took a while for us to actually get into the game, which is unacceptable because it cost us.”
At the start of the second period, the Red was still working feverishly to get its game in gear. Unfortunately for the Red, the Tigers pounced on a power play opportunity, sneaking their second and final goal of the night past sophomore goalie Ben Scrivens about six minutes into the period.
Down 2-0, the Red finally found the motivation it needed to buckle down and create some offense. Five minutes later, with the Red on the power play, freshman Mike Devin stepped into the slot and found the back of the net with a one-timer fed to him by senior co-captain Topher Scott.
“It was a battle down low and we just moved the puck around,” Sawada said. “Topher got it and picked it up and went behind the net. I think Princeton players were looking at Topher and lost track of where Mike Devin was and he came skating right down to the slot. Topher made a great pass to him and Devin just one-timed it right into the net.”
With the help of a late surge in intensity, the Red created a lot of chances in the offensive zone. However, it was yet another case of ‘too little, too late’ as the Princeton defense effectively shut down any Red opportunities. A scoreless third period gave the Tigers a narrow victory over the Red, keeping them in second place in ECAC Hockey standings and putting the Red into a tie with Union for fourth.
“We always feel like there is a chance, being down 2-0, but when you make it 2-1 it really turns into a close game which I think gave us a lot more of an extra boost,” Sawada said. “We started generating a lot more chances after we scored that first goal.”
Focus and preparation have been the bane of the Red’s existence all season, but with a playoff bye on the line, it becomes increasingly more urgent that the men overcome these obstacles.
“I guess you could attribute it to being young, but I think that’s really our excuse,” Sawada said. “I think we just need to focus as a team and come prepared to do our job game in and game out. Just coming prepared to have that energy and intensity no matter what game or period — I think we just lose it for some reason. I’m not sure why.”