Aaron Kesselman would like to come home in March.
Kesselman, a sophomore winger for the Princeton University ice hockey team, hopes to lead his team to the ECAC tournament in Atlantic City, just a short drive from his home in Mays Landing.
The Tigers are 2-1-3 in the ECAC (3-4-3 overall), but they showed Saturday that they can compete with the best, playing to a 4-4 tie with Union College, which is ranked No. 7 in the nation in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings.
One day earlier, Princeton tied another conference rival, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2-2. The Tigers have played six straight on the road.
“We always expect ourselves to win, no matter who we’re playing, so we weren’t satisfied with two ties,” Kesselman told the Daily Princetonian. “But we played two tough teams, one ranked, and got two big road points, so we’re looking at the positives and making sure that when we play (Union and RPI) again at home, we get two wins.”
The top four teams in the ECAC make the trip to Atlantic City for the tournament. Union won the title last season.
On Saturday, Princeton led Union 4-2 with seven minutes left in the game before squandering the lead.
“This weekend didn’t manifest our best performance when starting games with a lead, but we’re learning how to keep sustained pressure for the full 60 minutes,” Kesselman said. “That’s going to be key for us. When we play loose, with poise, we really click and things go our way.”
Princeton plays a home-and-home series with ECAC leader Quinnipiac on Friday and Saturday. Quinnipiac is ranked 16th in the nation.
“This upcoming weekend marks the end of our long road stint, so with two big wins here, we should distance ourselves from the pack and head into the new year with positive energy and momentum,” Kesselman said.