PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton’s Tommy Davis and Joe Grabowski skated out to the blue line on Friday night before the game’s start.
Dubbed as the team’s defensive starters for the third straight night, the pair skated near the opening faceoff circle, waiting for the puck to drop.
Grabowski, a Central New Jersey native from Lawrenceville, N.J., lived just 15 minutes from Princeton. His defensive partner, Davis, grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., roughly an hour and half north of Grabowski.
Davis attended Delbarton, while Grabowski graduated from Notre Dame High School. Junior hockey drew Davis to Youngstown, Ohio, and Grabowski to an NAHL championship with the Amarillo Bulls.
After growing up in the same state the two were introduced at Princeton – and have been playing on the same pair since the Liberty Hockey Invitational.
Friday night’s 4-3 loss to Harvard marked the 10th straight game the pair played together.
But this night was different.
Down 2-0 against Harvard in the second, Princeton’s Tommy Davis took a shot from the right point on Princeton’s power play. The puck slid past Harvard’s Steve Michalek. And for the first time in three tries, no one tipped it.
“Tommy, he’s not as rambunctious as he was at the beginning of the season and he’s settled down,” coach Ron Fogarty said.
“[Instead of] trying to manufacture plays that aren’t there, he’s waiting for plays to develop. We need him to be an offensive threat at the blue line.”
It was Davis’ first collegiate goal.
“It feels good, bittersweet that we lost, but it still feels good to finally get a goal, it’s been a long time coming,” Davis said.
Less than eight minutes later, his defensive partner Grabowski whacked in a rebound for his first collegiate tally, which tied the game at 2-2. After scoring, Grabowski jumped in the air as cheers filled Baker.
“It was really good. It was an awesome feeling,” Grabowski said.
“It was a good play by the other guys on the ice and I just followed it up and banged in the rebound.”
Friday was the second time this season, Davis and Grabowski recorded points in the same game.
“It was really cool,” Grabowski said. “When [Davis] got his first goal, I was just as happy for him as I was when I got mine. I’ve liked playing with him this season. It’s fun, we’ve meshed well together and hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the season.”
As a freshman and sophomore, Grabowski and Davis make up the team’s most inexperienced defensive pair. But the two have seen quality playing time, including power play and penalty kill minutes.
“Joe’s been given a lot of ice time, way ahead of schedule than a freshman should be given,” coach Ron Fogarty said. “But he’s delivered and accepted that role, and very versatile as well.”
Both players have three points this season. It’s a career high for Davis, who missed almost all of last season with a concussion.
“I think me and Joe have been playing pretty well together as of late,” Davis said. “Our chemistry’s been good, we’ve been good defensively, but we really haven’t seen any offensive production.
“It feels nice to finally break that and both get our first goal tonight. That’s really special.”