Category Archives: Alumni News

Kyle Rankin Ready For Season With Elmira

Kyle Rankin waits to hit Johnny Mueller

Princeton hockey alumnus Kyle Rankin signed with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL in the August to continue his professional career.

“They reached out to me and I had a good talk with the management and the coaching staff and it seemed like a great fit and a great place to start my first professional season,” Rankin said.

Rankin began his professional career with the Brampton Beast, joining the team in March after the conclusion of his Princeton career. He played in six games and registered zero points.

“I learned that there’s a lot of skilled players in that league and only 10 forwards dress a game, so the lines roll pretty quickly,” Rankin said. “I just kind of learned more the ins and the outs of pro hockey and I definitely think it was a good experience going there because I definitely feel more prepared heading this year.”

The Ottawa native joined Brampton on March 7 and signed the next morning, two days after Princeton’s playoff series loss to Clarkson. The Tigers dropped both games in the opening-round series to the Golden Knights in overtime

“It’s a bit more of a methodical game than the college game. The college game is run and gun, people are dumping pucks left and right and finishing every hit with a huge bang, and that’s not necessarily the way it’s done in the pros,” Rankin said. “Guys are quite poised with the puck, I think they’re a little smarter with their decision making with the puck so that’s definitely something I’ve been focusing on in my summer training.”

The Sioux Falls Stampede alumnus spent his summer working out at Fitquest, an organization run by Ottawa Sentator strength coach Chris Schwarz. Rankin said he worked on off-ice conditioning but focused on on-ice training.

“My goals are just to improve every day, get better every day,” Rankin said. “Pro hockey’s obviously a journey, it’s something that’s new for me. But I think everyone plays with the goal of improving their game and giving themselves a chance to play at higher and higher level.”

Rankin played in 117 games over a four-year period with Princeton and served as a co-captain in his senior year. He scored 31 points.

“I learned that if I was going to play, I had to play in all three zones. I definitely think I improved my ability to be reliable in all areas of the ice and definitely upped my physical play from when I came in there when I was 19 or so,” Rankin said. “So I have those things going forward. I’ve always considered myself a very strong skater so [I’m] just really worked on puck skills and looking to make good decisions with the puck heading into this year.”

Last season, Rankin appeared in 31 games, registered nine points and earned the team’s award for dedication and perseverance.

“I love playing hockey, I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t love it and I’m excited for a fresh start,” Rankin said. “I’m excited for a new opportunity. Princeton was fantastic obviously but it’ll be fun to get the opportunity to play at a higher level and never take it for granted.”

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Mike Condon Will Represent USA At Worlds

Princeton hockey alumnus Mike Condon will play for the United States during this year’s World Hockey Championships.

Condon appeared in 55 games this season for Montreal and recorded a .903 save percentage. The 2013 Princeton graduate played in 53 games as a Tiger.

 

Alumni Update

Andrew Ammon and  Desmond BerginKyle Rankin signed with the Brampton Beast just a few days after Princeton’s season ended, making him the first player turned pro from the class of 2016. Rankin has played in three games with Brampton so far.

Some other Tiger alums have changed teams in the offseason or during the season:

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Andrew Ammon spent most of his time last season in the ECHL with South Carolina, Providence’s affiliate. After spending the first season without a team, Ammon joined the Reading Royals and played in six games. Now Ammon is with the Wheeling Nailers.

Former goaltender Sean Bonar has spent his season with four different teams – the Fort Wayne Komets, Wichita Thunder. Brampton Beast of the ECHL and now the Fayetteville FireAntz of the SPHL. Over 13 games with the FireAntz, Bonar has a .913 save percentage.

Taylor Fedun has spent 47 games with Utica, registering 23 points. In his one NHL game this season, Fedun scored a goal.

Kyle Hagel has played in 61 games with Charlotte, where he has eight points. Marc has spent 40 games with the Iowa Wild and has 12 points.

Former Princeton captain Mike Moore is with Hershey this year, where he has nine points in 41 games. It’s his second season with the Bears.

Another previous captain, Darroll Powe has  played in 43 games for Lehigh Valley this year with 13 points.

Zane Kalemba has spent the season with the Manchester Storm of the EIHL where he has a .890 save percentage over 59 games.

Kevin Westgarth is now a member of the NHL office, The Hockey News reported. He is the Vice President of Business Development and International Affairs.

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Andrew Calof Signs Extension With Skellefteå AIK

Andrew Calof 18Princeton hockey alumnus Andrew Calof signed an extension with Skellefteå AIK, the club announced on Tuesday.

Calof has played with the SHL team since joining the team in 2014-15, the season after he graduated. While at Princeton, Calof reached the century-point mark. He finished his four-year career with 123 points.

Calof has 34 points with Skellefteå AIK this year and had 35 last season.

Kyle Rankin Signs With Brampton Beast

rankin cele 2Princeton hockey alumnus Kyle Rankin signed a standard player contract with the Brampton Beast, the team announced Tuesday.

Rankin said he joined the team in West Virginia Monday night and signed on Tuesday morning. Princeton is taking midterms this week, but Rankin said his are all finished.

“Brampton gave me a call Sunday morning after we had lost on Saturday night,” Rankin said via email. “I have always hoped to play hockey beyond college, but to be honest it hadn’t crossed my mind before the call due the quick turnaround. My mind was still on Saturday’s loss.”

Rankin dressed in Tuesday’s game, a 3-0 loss to the Wheeling Nailers. He finished with three shots.

“[The toughest adjustment was] probably just the poise and the skill of the players,” Rankin said. “Everyone is willing and able to make small area plays with the puck so I definitely had to be conscious of that.”

The Beast are at home for the next three games before a six-game road trip.

“It’s been great,” Rankin said. “The guys have been great to me and I’m really enjoying learning from some longtime professionals.”

Over his four years with the Tigers, Rankin played in 117 games and recorded 31 points. As a senior, Rankin co-captained the Tigers and had nine points in 31 games. Princeton’s season ended last Saturday when the Tigers were swept by Clarkson in the playoffs.

Mike Condon Earns Backup Role With Montreal

Princeton hockey alumnus Mike Condon was named the backup goaltender for Montreal, the Canadiens announced on Monday.

“I found out yesterday morning,” Condon said over text message. “The head coach, Michel Therein, general manager Marc Bergevin and goalie coach Stephane Waite met me in the office and said I would be starting the season with the team.

“I was obviously very excited and humbled at the same time. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Condon spent training camp battling goaltender Dustin Tokarski, who was placed on waivers Monday morning.

“Every goaltending battle is very close,” Condon said. “Everyone at this level can stop the puck and everyone is very accomplished. I didn’t dwell too much on anyone else, though.”

The Massachusetts native said adjusting to the speed will be his biggest challenge at the next level.

“It takes a little while to learn/remember anticipatory skills and the speed of the shots,” Condon said.

The former Princeton netminder joined the Canadiens after graduating from Princeton in 2013. After spending two seasons in the Montreal organization, Condon said he approached this year’s training camp with more emphasis on the mental aspect.

“I did a lot of mental preparation during the summer that helps me remain calm and silences the inner monologue that many people and players have. This allows me to just play and let my training take over,” Condon said.

“The biggest thing I learned at camp and more so this summer was to not get too far ahead of myself. Stay in the moment, trust the process, and take care of daily details. That will bring you success.”

 

As a Canadien, Condon will back up Carey Price – nine-year NHL vet who’s won the Vezina Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy.

“I think I can learn from a lot of things Price does,” Condon said. “He’s the best goalie in the world. He’s so calm, so athletic, and he can anticipate and react to plays better than any goalie I’ve watched. I hope I adopt some of his traits.”

He split the remainder of the 2013 season between the ECHL and the AHL, and spent most of the 2013-14 season with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.

After spending 48 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs last year, Condon joined Montreal’s practice squad for the playoffs. He signed a two-year extension with Montreal’s organization last year. As a member of the big club, Condon said he’s trying to learn a little bit of French.

“The French language is hard to learn,” Condon said. “I try to learn a few words every day. It’s very hard to pick up words with people’s accents and the way each word is pronounced. I speak Spanish but the accent and delivery of words is very different.”

The Canadiens open their season on Oct. 7 against Toronto.

“The most exciting aspect of joining the Canadiens would have to be just playing for one of the most storied franchises in the NHL,” Condon said. “It’s such an honor, and I still have to pinch myself every day.”

Six Princeton Alumni Participate In NHL Training Camps

Princeton hockey alumni Mike Condon, Taylor Fedun, Kyle Hagel, Marc Hagel Mike Moore and Michael Sdao are at NHL training camps this season.

Sdao, who was drafted by the Senators, is entering his third year of professional hockey. Condon is also in his third season of professional hockey, and has been playing in Montreal’s organization since graduating in 2013.

Fedun is in his first season with Vancouver’s organization. Last year he appeared in seven NHL games with San Jose and recorded four assists.  This is Moore’s second season with Washington. The former Princeton captain spent much of last season in the AHL, playing in 41 games for Hershey.

Marc and Kyle Hagel are both in training camps. Marc is with Minnesota, while Kyle is with Carolina. This is their second year in their respective organizations.

 

Jack Berger Reflects On A Season Spent Playing Abroad

Princeton captain Jack Berger

When Princeton hockey alumnus Jack Berger moved to Sweden to play in the Division I league, he thought the coffee was free.

“It’s different there, it’s like serve yourself. They just put out pots of coffee. I’m like, oh, this great. You just go places and you get free coffee. I really like that about Sweden,” Berger said.

One day, Berger chose to go out for fika – a traditional Swedish coffee break.

“I guess you’re supposed to do it in a group like socially, but I didn’t know because I hadn’t been on one yet,” Berger said.

He went by himself, read a book, had a pastry and had four cups of free coffee.

“We’re at the rink the next day and the guys are making fun of me for going by myself,” Berger said.

Berger asked his teammates to show him what fika really is, so the next day Berger and several of his teammates went to another coffee shop.

“They’re in front of me and they’re paying for coffee,” Berger said. “We get our pastries and they’re like, ‘So what do you think?’

“I’m like, ‘This is great, but I think I like the place with the free coffee a little bit better.’

“They’re like, ‘What are you talking about? You can’t get free coffee anywhere.”

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Berger was surprised.

“Apparently you’re supposed to pay for coffee everywhere and I was just stealing it,” Berger said. “So thank god no one ever caught me or got mad at me, because it’s this tiny town. I would’ve been banned so all of the pastry shops for the rest of the year.

“But that was kind of the wake-up moment that maybe I should ask people how things work over there. But I did not get in trouble. They gave me a hard time about that for I think literally the rest of the year.”

It was one cultural difference Berger encountered while spending his post-graduate year playing professional hockey in Sweden.

“It’s just much more of a laid back culture. They just kind of take life a little bit slower. I think they have different values, different priorities,” Berger said. “They value their leisure, they value their free time. They really sitting down and relaxing and being with friends and family,”

While the focus on family and friends doesn’t differ too much from life in the U.S., Berger said Sweden isn’t as focused on working.

“They just seem much more level-headed and balanced about everything,” Berger said. “I think that’s the biggest thing with that culture. They are so, so good at doing everything in moderation [and] they’re just very balanced people.”

The former Princeton captain had hoped to play in Sweden due to his Swedish heritage, and he heard good things about the Nybro organization from a family friend.

“It was definitely a bit of an adjustment in terms of buying groceries in a different language and cooking and living on my own, but the team was really great. … They did a very good job taking care of myself and the other imports,” Berger said.

Hockey in Sweden offered a different style of play, one that was more focused skating and training.

“I think one of the biggest factors is that they play on any Olympic ice sheet and so that changes the way that you can play a lot,” Berger said.

Berger said the game isn’t as physical and Sweden and is more reliant on skating.

“It’s not as much stopping and starting. It’s a lot of maintaining speed and maintaining possession,” Berger said. “I think that means the priority really changes the way the game is played. It’s a lot of systems and it’s not as much forechecking. You really are more careful with your chances. It was a different style and I had to learn to kind of control my play a little bit more, which people don’t do as much in college.”

For Berger, the most memorable moment came from a weekend when Nybro needed to win to earn a place outside the lower playoffs. But the Vikings played poorly for the first two periods.

“We went into the locker room before the third and a bunch of guys just were very honest about what we needed to do, what we had done and what was on the line,” Berger said.

The Vikings trailed by two goals, but came back in the third and won the game.

“It was a huge game for us down the line in the season,” Berger said. “It’s just [a] really cool, strong bonding experience that we were able to pull that off and battle through with almost everything on the line.”

While spending the year abroad, Berger traveled during his winter break and after the season ended. He visited Copenhagen, Stockholm and London. After the season ended, Berger and some teammates toured Gothenburg and Helsinki. He then traveled for two and half weeks, visiting Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Hamburg.

“I’d never been to Europe before and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Berger said. “It was just nice to see that at the end of the day, at least in the hockey community. … I think the people are just people.

“We might come from different backgrounds and there might be differences in opinions and things like that, but I think that if you’re open to communication and friendly that you could really connect with anyone, no matter where they’re from or where you’re from.”

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Princeton Hockey Alumnus Mark Milley Nominated for Army’s Chief of Staff

Princeton hockey alumni General Mark Milley was nominated for the Army’s chief of staff on May 13.

“He not only has plenty of operational and joint experience in Afghanistan, in Iraq and on the Joint Staff, but he also has the intellect and vision to lead change throughout the Army,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Army Times.

Per the Army Times, Milley will be the first Army chief of staff with an undergraduate Ivy League degree.

Milley will replace Ray Odierno, who’s retiring, if the senate approves the selection. Continue reading Princeton Hockey Alumnus Mark Milley Nominated for Army’s Chief of Staff