Princeton men’s hockey lost its fifth-straight game, falling to Maine 4-0 in the opening round of the Florida College Hockey Classic.
The Black Bears (10-6-1) rode a three-goal third period to down the Tigers (3-13-0) at Germain Arena on Saturday.
“Overall we’re a much better team. The score isn’t indicative of it but we were a much better team tonight than we have been all year,” coach Bob Prier said. “But at the same time, because of that, those effort-type instances or lack there of are that much more glaring.”
Down 2-0 in the third, it appeared as though Princeton’s Will Ford netted his first tally of the season. But the referees waved the goal off and didn’t review the play.
“I asked the ref, [but] at that point there’s nothing you can do. The ref thought it hit the crossbar. There clearly wasn’t a sound,” Prier said.
“But it is what it is, it’s kind of been our misfortunate. We’ve had a couple of goals disallowed all year but it is what it is, that stuff happens within the game.”
Mike Ambrosia, Ben Foster and Andrew Calof returned to the lineup. Calof, who led Princeton in scoring his first three years, had not played since Nov. 8.
“Nice to play hockey again, that’s for sure,” Calof said after the game. “[It] felt good to be back out there. [It’s] been too long.”
Calof missed 10 games while Ambrosia missed six this season.
“We’re just a far better team with Ambrosia and Calof in the lineup. They change the whole complexion, the whole momentum of the game,” Prier said.
“They bring depth and they’re just elite players. They can make plays. I think they’re premiere players in the country, not just in our league or on our team.”
Ambrosia and Calof played on the team’s top line with freshman Ryan Siiro and accounted for nine of Princeton’s 33 shots. It just wasn’t enough to sneak one past Maine’s Martin Oullette.
They played outstanding, they had a ton of chances, it was a great line, I think they were the best line on the ice,” Prier said. “They just ran into a really hot goalie. That kid he’s big, he fills the net, he keeps it simple. Their goalie played outstanding, deserved the shutout [and] deserves a lot of credit.”
In the opposite end, Colton Phinney earned his seventh start of the season. He stopped 32 of 36 pucks, allowing goals to Steven Swavely, Cam Brown and Stu Higgins.
“[Phinney’s] numbers are better than Sean’s right now and I plan on splitting them here for a while and they can battle it out moving forward,” Prier said.
“The guys kind of left him hanging there the last couple of goals. I thought he played a good game, he played well enough for us to win, which is all we can ask of him. We just didn’t play with enough passion or desire to win. I think Colton did.”
The teams combined for three penalties, with Princeton taking two. Maine and Princeton both finished the game scoreless on the power play.
With the loss, Princeton will face New Hampshire at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The teams last faced in 2000, when the Wildcats (9-10-1) netted a 6-3 victory.
“We just need more guys to step up and start playing with more pride. It’ll happen now with some depth with the healthy because they’re going to start playing with a lot more passion because we are getting a little deeper now,’ Prier said.
“Our problem isn’t our guys not playing at this point. Our problem is just, I thought we played hard, not hard enough.”