Princeton started its 2011 regular season campaign with a positive 2-2 tie against the Yale Bulldogs in the opening contest of the Ivy Shootout.
Head coach Bob Prier was very optimistic heading into the game — his first ever game as a head coach at the Division I — and equally pleased with the outcome.
“A tie, it’s nice. I felt that our team, as the game wore on, we got better and better,” said Prier.
A result against an ECAC powerhouse like Yale is good start to any team’s season, for Princeton it is a confidence booster,
“Yale have garnered a ton of respect here over the last several years. They certainly look like they didn’t lose a step from last year,” said Prier.
The Tigers showed some strong defensive prowess against Yale, spearheaded by a 28-save performance by goaltender Sean Bonar. The sophomore continued his promising collegiate career by making a few key saves. Bonar frustrated Yale’s top forward line of Andrew Miller, Nicholas Wedberg and Brian O’Neill all night.
On the offensive front, Princeton had a fairly slow start. Despite Michael Sdao opening the scoring in the first period, the team took awhile to warm up to the tight play of Yale, earning only four shots on net in the entire period.
However, in the second the team came out of the locker room with a bit more energy and forced Bulldog goaltender Jeff Malcolm to make some crucial saves for his team.
Princeton’s night was highlighted by a beautiful game-tying goal from Rob Kleebaum. The junior was taken down in front of the Yale goal, but still managed to put a shot in the corner of the net from his stomach.
When asked about how the team has reacted to having a new coach, Prier felt that his group of seniors have be key to the transition,
“The leadership on this team is absolutely incredible. It makes life that much easier on a coach,” he said.
Next up for the Tigers (0-0-1) at the Ivy Shootout is a 4 p.m. match up against Brown (0-1-0) Saturday. Yale (0-0-1) will face Dartmouth (1-0-0) at 7 p.m.
Note: Games at the Ivy Shootout are considered non-conference games even though all teams are from the ECAC.