Recapping a Disastrous Weekend For Princeton

Friday, November 8

Yale 5
Princeton 2

Saturday, November 9

Brown 6
Princeton 3

PRINCETON — That’s really all you need to see.  But it’s obviously a little more complicated than just two blowout losses.  Let’s start with Friday…

It’s fair to say that Yale came in as the heavy favorites.  The defending national champions were the No. 9 team in the country, but the Tigers had held them to just a one-goal defeat in the season-opening Liberty Hockey Invitational, in which the Bulldogs were upset out of the gate by Brown.  Friday wasn’t that close, nor was it as “close” as the score might indicate.

“They’re a team that, if you give them an opportunity, they don’t make too many mistakes,” said Tigers head coach Bob Prier.  “We gave them too many.”

That’s somewhat of an understatement.  Turnover after turnover after turnover marked an uneven performance, and Prier knew it cost his team.

“It’s troubling, there were far too many unforced turnovers,” he said.  “They’re a team that isn’t overly physical, they don’t really cause you to throw pucks away.  I think that we just tried to pass it into traffic instead of just skate it a few times, and that was probably the biggest difference in the game, we had far too many unforced turnovers where we just kind of gave them the puck.”

But there was reason for optimism heading into Saturday.  Princeton played much better in the third period against Yale, and looked to carry that momentum into their game against Brown…and they did, but they really didn’t.

Another tough start saw them get behind early, and a complete departure in the second from their first few physical shifts in the opening period had the game out of reach by the time the final 20 minutes were to be played.

“I don’t know if you can pinpoint it on a certain period,” said Prier of his team’s struggles this weekend.

“I just think we’re going to have evaluate how we’re allowing that many goals.  It’s not always the same instance, the same mistake.  We’re not tracking the puck at one time, and then the next time, we’re not in the right position in our cage defensively.  And it’s not like it’s the same people all the time.  I think we’re looking for consistency from the team as a whole from a defensive aspect.  If we do that, we’ll have more offensive opportunities.”

From the “bad goes to worse” department, Princeton’s offensive opportunities were already limited by the absence of Andrew Calof, considered by some to be the only true NHL prospect on the team.  According to Prier, Calof has an “upper-body injury,” and hasn’t been playing at 100 percent all season.  He’s day-to-day.  Seems like the rest of the team is as well.

“We can’t get much worse than the way it went down,” he said.  “You look at the whole weekend, and we’re just a team right now that doesn’t have much margin of error, so we’re going to have to clean things up.  We can’t have that many systematic errors again, because every one of them seems to bite us in the ass somehow.”

But even Prier conceded that his team’s 1-5 record (0-4 in conference) is a solid indication of where they’re at right now.

“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves and understand that this is a tough league,” he said.  “But at the same time, we’re not far off from climbing ourselves out of this hole…it’s a nice wake-up call early in the year.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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