Syracuse head coach John Desko needed something to jolt his team after SU was mired in a losing streak and at risk of falling below .500.
Enter freshman goalie Bobby Wardwell, who started for the first time in his college career in Syracuse’s 10-9 win over No. 11 Princeton (6-3) on Saturday. Wardwell notched nine saves as the Orange (5-4) won its first game against a ranked team this season.
“He showed his competitiveness today,” Desko said. “He’s very comfortable in tight. I think he showed his mental toughness.”
Desko said that because of the short turnaround until the next game (Syracuse will play No. 5 Cornell on Tuesday), Wardwell would likely get another start because of the lack of time to evaluate things.
Certainly, Wardwell’s performance had something to do with that decision, as well.
“It didn’t hurt it,” Desko said.
Things didn’t start that way for Wardwell on Saturday. Princeton scored the games first three goals of the game and Wardwell looked every bit the freshman.
“I was pretty rattled after they hit the first couple pipes,” Wardwell said. “But the rest of the team kind of calmed me down.”
After allowing four first period goals, the Tigers scored only five the rest of the game.
“Bobby has got a hard head on his shoulders,” defenseman Brian Megill said. “He kind of lets things go right away and that’s a real testament to him being a freshman and all.”
Syracuse’s stingy defense certainly helped, as the Orange forced 19 turnovers. From there, the offense took over, as SU scored four unanswered goals in the final 1:45 of the third period to turn a 7-5 deficit into a 9-7 lead.
Wardwell said that he was told on Thursday that he would be starting. He supplanted Dominic Lamolinara (9.68 GAAvg, .477 save percentage) and Matt Lerman (9.85, .508). Both had struggled so far this season.
“(Wardwell) did a nice job,” Princeton head coach Chris Bates said. “He came in and hadn’t played this year and I thought he stood on his head a little bit.”
Ben Glidden contributed to this story with reporting from Syracuse.