The Princeton girls’ hockey team opened conference play Monday night against Rogers and left with a familiar result.
The Tigers backed up last year’s conference title, first in school history, with a 4-2 win over the Royals, providing some semblance that success wasn’t a fluke.
“We’re coming off a conference championship and we’ve got a lot to prove,” Coach Paul McElhone said.
The Tigers’ win was rather unconventional. They spent little time in the offensive zone and were outshot by the Royals a whopping 34-11. The defense locked down though, allowing few open shooting lanes and even fewer rebounds.
“We knew they were fast and strong and they were going to control the puck a lot”, McElhone said. ”We had to play well defensively and take away their scoring opportunities.”
A great snapshot of that game plan happened early in the second period. While at equal strength the Royals controlled the puck for two straight minutes. During that time, they were inside the Princeton zone for all but a few seconds, still, Rogers tested Tigers goalie Kara Schramel just once.
If the defense did allow someone to sneak through, Schramel was there to swat the puck away. She had a season-high 32 saves and stood tall during power play late in the third period, despite Rogers throwing the puck desperately at the net, seemingly, every few seconds.
“She had a good game, a very good game, and we needed her to do that,” McElhone said.
The Tiger offense, unlike Rogers, made the most of the few chances they had. Seven minutes in, Maggie Peterson showed off a strong forecheck and then fired the puck to the net where McCallan Dostal deflected it into the goal for her second of the season.
Three minutes later a Rogers defenseman fell down, leading to a 3-on-1 the other way. Maddie Peterson didn’t need the help, speeding into the offensive zone and rifling a shot from the circle, just under the crossbar, for a 2-0 lead.
Later in the period, after Rogers’ Jenna Hatcher scored her first varsity goal, Maddie and Larkin Walter ran a 2-on-1 to perfection, Walter finishing to give the Tigers three goals in the first period…on just four shots.
The Royals, who finished just one point behind Princeton in conference play last year, would score again in the second, pulling the deficit back to one, but Walter went coast-to-coast early in the third, outskating everyone, before finding pay dirt. That would be Princeton’s only shot on goal in the third, too.
Princeton will start play again next week, hosting Pequot Lakes on Monday, Nov. 28, before traveling to Litchfield on Tuesday and Hutchinson, Thursday.