The Princeton boys hockey team is starting to get used to tight contests this season. After an overtime loss to North Branch on Jan. 16, the team followed it up with two more single goal games.
Unfortunately, the Tigers have been on the wrong side of all three one-goal games as the team dropped a pair of games to Little Falls and Cambridge-Isanti. Princeton fell 3-2 versus the Flyers on Jan. 19, following that loss with a 2-1 defeat against Cambridge-Isanti two days later in the battle for the Rusty Skates Trophy.
Both contests came on the road of Princeton while the game against the Bluejackets took place outside at Cambridge Outdoor Rink Facility.
Princeton Head Coach Todd Frederick said the last three games haven’t been the easiest for the squad. “It has been a tough three game stretch for the varsity team,” said Frederick.
Starting play last week for the Tigers was the toughest test to date as they took on the Flyers, who are currently ranked in the top 10 of Class A.
Taking on a team of that caliber, the Tigers were able to play with the Flyers throughout the duration of the contest.
Frederick was pleased with the effort Princeton showed in the contest. “It was a great game, we battled, we played hard,” he said.
Jumping into the game, Princeton was able to draw first blood as Jake Baumann found the back of the net to give the Tigers the early 1-0 lead. The visiting Tigers wouldn’t stop there tacking on another goal, this time by Dalton Wille, to grab the 2-0 advantage entering the first intermission.
Devon Day got the start in net and turned away every Flyer attempt in the first period, picking up 15 saves in the opening frame. Day finished with 43 saves on the night.
Little Falls was not discouraged by the two goal deficit as the Flyers kept Princeton’s offense from expanding on its lead while continue to play solid hockey.
The Flyers were the next to find the back of the net, beating Day to make it a single goal game at 2-1. That goal was the only of the second period.
Entering into the final period, Princeton still clung to their one goal lead.
That lead would not last for long as Little Falls lit the light just under four minutes into the frame to tie the game at two apiece.
“As the game went on we got tired and they keep the foot on the gas,” said Frederick.
The Flyers were able to complete the comeback and took the 3-2 lead late into the period while the Tigers weren’t able to answer as they fell by that score.
After falling to the Flyers, another large match up loomed as the Tigers and the Bluejackets were set to battle for the Rusty Skates two nights later.
The contest was a bit different than usual as the battle for the Rusty Skates took place outdoors. “It was a new experience, none of these guys have played a high school game outside and I assumed Cambridge is in the same position. It was a great experience,” said Frederick on the outdoors game.
As for the game itself, it was a tradition Mississippi 8 battle as the two teams fought to a 0-0 game after the first period.
Back after the first intermission, the Bluejackets were able to break the scoreless tie, taking the 1-0 lead. The goal would be the only scoring in the second period.
Back in action for the third period, Princeton was able to tie the game off of a Cade Pazdernik goal, assisted by Brody Lindquist and Wille.
After knotting the game at one apiece, Cambridge-Isanti found itself on the power play with the chance to go ahead. The Bluejackets would not squander the opportunity grabbing the 2-1 lead.
As time ran down in the final period, another penalty thwarted the Tigers comeback attempt as the Bluejackets were able to hold on for the 2-1 victory.
Day once again got the start in net and played making 36 saves in the contest.
Penalties weighed large on Princeton said Frederick. “We were in the box way too much. It was disappointing for the coaching staff that we had some veterans that took penalties that were difficult one to take at big moments. We talked about it and it is a teaching moment,” he said.
The loss dropped the Tigers to 0-3 while the Bluejackets moved to 2-1 on the year.
Though having yet to pick up a win on the year, Princeton knows these experiences will pay off at the end of the year. “Playing these tough one goal games will make us better at the end,” said Frederick.
In order to flip these contests to where Princeton will be walking away victorious, the team must be more knowledgeable of the situations they are in according to Frederick. “We have to be a little bit more aware of that situational hockey,” said Frederick.
Princeton got the chance to bounce back from their early season struggles on Jan. 26 as they took on Chisago Lakes on the road. After the game against the Wildcats, the Tigers returned to the Princeton Ice Arena on Jan. 30 to take on Becker/Big Lake.
Princeton girls drop three
The Princeton girls hockey co-op remains on the hunt for their first win of the season after falling to Pine City, Hopkins/Park and Chisago Lakes this past week.
The Tigers lost to the Dragons 3-1 on Jan. 19, followed by a 4-2 loss against the Royals on Jan. 23, then closed the week with a lopsided 10-1 lost to the Wildcats on Jan. 25. All three of the contests were held away from the Princeton Ice Arena.
Heading into the match up against Pine City, Princeton hoped to take advantage of a fellow team full of youth.
The two young teams battled to a scoreless first period as goaltender MacKenzie Dembinski stopped all 12 shots she faced.
Back for the second period, the Dragons were able to solve Dembinski, sneaking two goals past the freshman for the 2-0 advantage entering the final period.
Princeton would not go quietly as Amelia Smith brought the Tigers within one on a power play opportunity with just over 10 minutes left in the contest. The goal was assisted by Teagan Zinniel.
Pine City would hold the Tigers comeback attempt at bay, adding an insurance goal late to take the game, 3-1.
Dembinski finished the night with a strong performance in net picking up 34 saves.
Back just a couple days later waited an opportunity for revenge against Hopkins/Park.
The two teams had met just eight days earlier, a 3-1 win for the Royals, as Princeton eyed to flip the script on the loss.
Early in the contest, it appeared it would once again go in Hopkins/Park’s favor as they jumped out to the 2-0 lead with time running out in the first period. That’s when Smith was able to score her second goal in as many games, making it a 2-1 contest entering the first intermission.
Smith wasn’t done scoring for the day as she would tally the game tying score just minutes into the second period, knotting the game at two apiece. Both goals for Smith were unassisted.
The Royals were able to bounce back from the two unanswered goals, scoring the next two on the way to the 4-2 win.
Hopkins/Park’s defense was stout in the loss despite giving up two goals, as the Royals only allowed Princeton to get off seven shots for the game.
Dembinski once again stood tall in net, turning away 57 out of 61 shots in the losing effort.
Looming next for the Tigers was the toughest test yet as Princeton traveled to Chisago Lakes, who is ranked top 10 in Class A.
The Wildcats were able to prove why they have high expectations this season as they flexed their muscles on the way to the 10-1 victory.
Drea Artmann scored Princeton’s lone goal in the second period as she was assisted by Chloe Acker.
Shelby Ulm saw time in the net making 33 saves while Dembinski stopped six of her nine shots she faced.
The loss dropped the Tigers to 0-4 on the season.
Up next for Princeton will be Northern Tier, as the Tigers will aim to snap their season opening losing streak on Jan. 29 at the East Bethel Ice Arena.