PRINCETON, N.J. – Assistant captain Mike Ambrosia stood outside Princeton’s locker room, still wearing his skates and pads. Music blasted from the locker room, celebrating the Tigers’ (3-14-1) win over Army.
He smiled as he talked about the team’s new warmup playlist, which could’ve factored in the team’s win over Army.
“I guess you could say so,” Ambrosia said. “I think [Kroshus] was in charge of that so he did a good job and it was obviously nice to get a win in the column.”
The 4-1 victory over the Black Knights (5-17-2) marked Princeton’s first win since Nov. 28, and the victory snapped an eight-game losing streak.
“With this team our mission is set, what we discussed in the dressing room,” coach Ron Fogarty said. “Obviously you like to win but our focus is getting better every day and ironing things out before the playoffs. All I know is I feel pretty good right now.”
The win came after a 5-2 loss to RPI, a game Fogarty felt was extremely important.
“When you struggle to win it takes time to develop that mentality of how to win,” Fogarty said.
“It takes hard work. You have to do things over and over again and not cheat. And we were trying to cheat a little bit on a couple instances tonight, and you have to be solid through you know 200 feet, consistent. It’s tough to win, it’s hard to win and the teams that do things over and over again will win and that’s the biggest message we took from RPI.”
The four tallies were the most Princeton has scored all season, and in almost a year. The last time the Tigers reached that mark was on Feb. 15, 2014, a 7-5 loss at Yale.
“I think we’ve been getting chances lately he last few games before we had exams there, and they didn’t seem to be going in for some reason,” Ambrosia said. “But today we excuted and we just want to keep scoring goals.”
Tallies from Tucker Brockett and Ambrosia gave Princeton a 2-0 lead entering the third, when Army’s Joe Llaurado cut the deficit to 2-1. Army pressed, but Princeton responded with a pair of goals – from Ben Foster and Tommy Davis – to take a 4-1 lead.
“Our defensive structure was better as we progressed,” Fogarty said. “I thought the first period here they were underneath us and had some chances, and that was indicative of the shots.
“I think guys are just being focused and treating every day like it’s a new day, not worry about the standings. Everyone makes the playoffs so you just want to move up as high as you can.”
The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but winter storm Juno postponed the match for a day.
“It kind of throws you off a little bit, but one thing that we practice is just controlling what you can control, and we can’t control the weather obviously,” Tommy Davis said. “So we just stuck with it, had an extra day of practice which was nice.”
The Tigers resumed play for the first time since Jan. 10, ending a two-week long break for finals. After taking finals, Princeton picked up the intensity of its practices last week.
“W practiced probably 13, 14 practices in a row, but sometimes you need that break at least from games and maybe that’ll get us going in the second half,” Ambrosia said.
Princeton outshot Army 36-27 on the night, and held the shots advantage in each frame. Special teams clicked for the Tigers, who converted two of four chances. Princeton killed off all seven penalties.
“We got to continue to win on the special teams, because when we get into the playoffs and hopefully deep into the playoffs, that’s how you win games, is the special teams,” Ambrosia said. “It’s going to be pretty even five-on-five so if we can keep them off the scoreboard and penalty kill wise and then score one or two goals on the power play we should have a chance of winning, especially with Colton in net.”
Phinney finished with 26 saves, and made some key stops early on when the game was scoreless.
After being shut out in three straight games, Princeton has netted eight tallies over its last three contests. Ambrosia scored his first goal in 24 games, while Jonathan Liau added three assists.
“They’re jumping, they’re not playing perimeter as much as they were earlier in the year,” Fogarty said. “that may be because of injuries but you know those are two guys that you need to score.”
Thanks to the postponement, the Tigers will be back on the road shortly to continue ECAC play against Yale and Brown.
“We need to start getting wins here and building momentum towards the playoff,” Davis said. “If we can get going, have a really hot February, who knows what can happen in playoffs. So that’s our goal right now.”