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Tigers drop to bottom of ECAC

Princeton has now dropped 5 of its last 6 games on the road.

Princeton has now dropped 5 of its last 6 games on the road.

The men’s hockey team suffered two tough losses over the weekend, falling to No. 11 Union 3-0 in Schenectady on Friday night and 5-2 to Rensselaer in Troy on Saturday afternoon. Princeton (3-12 overall, 2-8 ECAC) lost two games for the second consecutive weekend and now finds itself at the bottom of the ECAC, having gone 2-12 in its last 14 games.

Union’s (10-3-2, 7-1) win on Friday night was its sixth consecutive victory. The Dutchmen took down No. 5 Quinnipiac on Saturday to take sole possession of first place in the ECAC.

The Tigers’ weekend was defined by the first period the team played on Friday night. Union forward Kevin Sullivan scored on a power play only 7:49 into the period, a minute after Princeton sophomore forward Jonathan Liau was penalized two minutes for tripping. The Dutchmen extended their early lead just a few minutes later, when forward Daniel Ciampini collected a pass in front of the goalmouth and fired a wrist shot to the right, beating freshman goaltender Colton Phinney to his left. Union earned its final goal of the evening with only 1:06 left in the game, extending its lead to 3-0 and putting the game out of reach for the Tigers.

Union goaltender Colin Stevens gave Princeton trouble all night long. Despite tallying 20 shots throughout the contest, the Tigers could not find the net. Stevens connected on all 20 saves, extending his record to 7-1 this season. Phinney also had a good evening, earning 31 saves on 34 Dutchman shots, but despite his best efforts, the freshman goalie fell to 1-5 in starts this season.

Princeton’s first period woes continued a half hour down the road in Troy on Saturday afternoon, where the Tigers took on Rensselaer (8-5-3, 3-3-3) for this first time this season. The Engineers went up early, spurred by quick goals from defender Chris Bradley and forward Brock Higgs only 23 seconds apart. Higgs’ wraparound finish beat Phinney to the net and gave Rensselaer a 2-0 lead only 3:26 into the game.

Although senior defender Alec Rush cut the deficit to 2-1 on an odd-man rush with 5:52 left in the first period, Princeton could not hold back the Engineers. Junior forward Aaron Kesselman went to the box for slashing, and Rensselaer forward Ryan Haggerty made the Tigers pay. His power-play goal at the 15:50 mark — still of the first period — extended his team’s lead to 3-1, and the lead would hold.

Senior goaltender Sean Bonar relieved Phinney at the start of the second frame, but the Engineers added two goals in the period. Liau scored on a shootout for the Tigers, but the 5-2 score at the end of the period would hold for the remainder of the match, as Bonar held the Engineers scoreless in the final frame but the Tigers made no headway either.

Princeton, which does not play again until Dec. 28, will look to use the time off to right its season. The Tigers will travel to Florida and British Columbia to play in two invitational tournaments before resuming ECAC competition against Rennselaer on Jan. 10.

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