In a year of accolades and record-breaking streaks, the Princeton men’s hockey team never lost sight of its primary goal: winning the ECAC Hockey championship.
On March 22, the Tigers accomplished that mission, defeating Harvard 4–1 in Albany, N.Y., to seal their first ECAC Hockey title since the 1997–98 season. The victory capped a playoff run that included a hard-fought three-game series against Yale and a 3–0 shutout of Colgate in the semifinals.
The ECAC Hockey title guaranteed Princeton a spot in the NCAA Championships in Madison, Wis., where the Tigers drew North Dakota, ranked No. 3 in the nation. For much of the game, Princeton was up to the challenge, outshooting the Fighting Sioux but falling behind, 2–0, in the first two periods. North Dakota scored a third goal early in the third period and added two empty-net scores in a 5–1 win.
Goaltender Zane Kalemba ’10 might not have had all the answers against North Dakota, but he stole the show in the ECAC Hockey playoffs, recording three shutouts in five games. Kalemba also set a league postseason record with a shutout streak of 189 minutes and 59 seconds, spanning four contests.
“The bigger the game is, the better he is,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “Stress and pressure simply don’t affect him — he was fantastic.”
Though Kalemba surrendered one goal in the championship game against Harvard, he recorded 35 saves, outplaying ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Year Kyle Richter, the Crimson netminder, on his way to winning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Kalemba said his postseason play was not much different from his work in goal during the rest of the year. “But during playoff time,” he said, “I just was a little more focused and got a few more fortunate bounces.”
While Kalemba’s goaltending was the key to the Princeton victories, the Tigers also received solid offensive efforts from a pair of freshmen. Forwards Matt Arhontas ’11 and Kevin Lohry ’11 provided the Princeton scoring in the semifinal matchup.
Arhontas’ game-winning goal midway through the third period broke a scoreless tie and marked his fourth score in as many games. Lohry added two goals of his own late in the period to seal the victory over Colgate.
“We came out a little flat in the first two periods, but after [Arhontas’] goal, we gained momentum and were able to keep control the rest of the game,” Lohry said afterward.
The semifinal victory paved the way for an Ivy League showdown against Harvard in the finals. For the fifth consecutive playoff game, the Tigers struck first when defenseman Mike Moore ’08 shot through a screen 5:04 into the opening period.
Landis Stankievech ’08 added what proved to be the game-winning goal midway through the second period, with Moore assisting. “If the hockey gods smile down on anybody, it’s him,” Gadowsky said of Stankievech. “He works so hard every second. ... He plays for the team and [the] team alone.”
Brett Wilson ’09 and Mark Magnowski ’10 each scored late in the third period to seal the victory.
Notably absent from the Princeton stat line was forward Lee Jubinville ’09, the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, hockey’s Heisman Trophy. After scoring less than a minute into the first quarterfinal game against Yale, Jubinville did not net another point in the playoffs, but Princeton’s offense flourished. “Jubs doesn’t have to score a point to have an impact — he was great defensively and created [scoring opportunities],” Gadowsky said.
Princeton’s lone playoff hiccup came in the second game of its best-of-three series against Yale, which the Tigers lost 4–3 despite outshooting the Bulldogs 35–26. The Tigers recovered the next night, winning 4–0 as Kalemba shut out Yale for the second time in three games.
Despite the NCAA loss to North Dakota, Princeton’s season was a success by any measure. The high-scoring Tigers (21–14–0) set school records for wins in a season and league wins (14), and their 75 goals in league play led all ECAC Hockey teams.
Eric Dodds ’10, from New York, is a senior writer for The Daily Princetonian.