Princeton's Kaiser Finds Gift in Tiny, Black Package
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
PRINCETON, N.J. Landis Stankievech may not have been shopping for Kevin Kaiser's birthday present prior to Saturday's game against Harvard. But he wound up delivering one anyway.
The result was the game-winning goal, just Kaiser's second goal of the season, as Princeton continued its roll and reached .500, defeating Harvard 2-1.
After having the better of play most of the night, Princeton had just finally tied the game 1-1 when Kaiser received a late penalty. With the Tigers killing it off, Stankievech went down to block a shot at the right point just as the penalty was expiring. As Kaiser came out of the box, the puck ricocheted to Kaiser, who settled the rolling disc and raced down the ice.
Kaiser wasted no time in firing a straightforward forehand shot under the blocker of Harvard's Kyle Richter, setting off a mini-explosion inside Baker Rink.
"That was a lot of fun," said Kaiser afterward, still basking in the glow of the moment, on his birthday. "That's got to be one of the biggest goals I've ever scored. I've never heard this building like that ever. It was just an amazing feeling. A little lucky that puck just happened to squirt out there. But it was an amazing block by Landis — he does those things all the time."
Given Stankievech's status, however, as Rhodes' Scholar, some were left wondering whether the play truly was just a product of lady luck.
"I don't know — it is Landis," said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky.
Kaiser said once he got down the ice, he knew there would be no fancy moves — just a shot trying to beat Richter.
"I settled it down, and I knew (Harvard) was going to be on me hard," Kaiser said. "So I really tried to bust in there hard. And all I was thinking was 'Pull the trigger quick.' Because when a guy's on you like that, if he gets a little stick on you or something like that, the breakaway could go wrong. So I picked the left side of the net and pulled the trigger quick. ... Late in the game, ice can be a little suspect down there."
Kaiser, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore from New Hampshire had just two goals last season, and now two this seasno.
"That's a perfect guy to get it," Gadowsky said. "He's an incredible workhorse and he does it consistently night in and night out, and I think that's the guys who score the goals like that."
Princeton was coming off a 5-2 win over Dartmouth. Getting that consistency through a weekend is still something Gadowsky is searching for, though he has improved the program considerably since taking over four years ago.
But after falling behind 1-0, Princeton poured it on Harvard, only to be stymied time and again by Richter. A complete weekend was there, effort wise, but the results didn't come until late in the third.
"For the pressure we had, I thought we deserved a break," Gadowsky said.
Kaiser said, "It felt all game like we were battling. We had so many chances — hit posts, pucks going through the crease. But nobody gave up in the room."
Princeton has gone from five wins in the year before Gadowsky took over, to eight, to 10, to 15 last season. And with the team now at .500, it looks headed for more again.
"I think it's heading in a good direction. We took one from Nebraska-Omaha last weekend, that got things rolling," Kaiser said. "We had a great week of practice. And with ECAC games and Ivy League games, to tkae them both, it's huge. Especially at home to get our crowd back in it. I think good things are going to come. We're working hard right now and gaining a lot of confidence."