Category Archives: Alumni

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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Mark Milley Reflects On His Time At Princeton

Mark Milley stood inside the Tampa Theater, a 90-year-old building with small velvet seats and an overhanging balcony. He smiled on the stage in front of a starry sky and a cardboard cutout of a castle, accepting his Lou Lamoriello Award. Medals filled the left side of his chest, denoting his status as the country’s Army General, a montage of red, green and blue. He’s formidable in stature with grey hair contrasting against his dark jacket line with gold rims on the sleeves and shoulders.

The award, honoring a college hockey alumnus with a distinguished professional path, was presented just before the Hobey Baker Award. Like Hobey Baker, Milley too had played college hockey at Princeton.

But after accepting his award, after posing for photos and engaging with fans, the Army General stopped to speak to a child the quarter of his size. Milley jested, telling the kid – a Minnesota native – that if he wanted to play hockey, he’d have to move to Boston.

The city on the Charles was close to where Milley himself, a Winchester, Mass., native playing prep school hockey at Belmont Hill, started. When time for college arrived, Milley remained on the East Coast and took the five-hour trip south to Princeton.

Milley had applied to different schools, but the old Ivy League college – with grey stone buildings, its campus locked in time and historic rink that paid homage to the greatest player in college hockey – enchanted Milley.
“I liked Princeton the best and felt like there was a certain chemistry there and a certain chemistry with the coach and the hockey team, so I picked Princeton,” Milley said. “It was great and I never looked back. It was wonderful.”

While he dressed in black and orange, Milley skated on the same ice with and against bogeomeths of college hockey – from the powerhouse BU teams driven by Mike Eruzione to Clarkson’s Dave Taylor.

“All that 1980 Olympic hockey that came from the East, I played against all those guys,” Milley said.
While a Tiger, Milley played with current writer and producer David E. Kelley. Kelley worked on a range of shows including The Practice, Ally McBeal and Boston Legal. In 2014, Kelley was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

“He’s done very, very well, been very successful in Hollywood,” Milley said. “He was always an extraordinarily disciplined guy, always did his homework sort of thing and as I understand it, he writes all his own scripts and works very hard and very, very disciplined. So more power to him and I’m really happy for him.”

The 1980 Princeton graduate has returned to Princeton, whether speaking at the school, attending reunions or commissioning the school’s ROTC.

“The army is a team organization. It’s very team oriented because you don’t accomplish anything in the military by yourself, whether it’s in combat or in training,” Milley said. “It’s always operating as a team, or team of teams, so the teamwork of team sports has direct applicability to service in the army. I think that’s one thing I think that you draw from my time at not only at Princeton but all the team sports I’ve played on over the years.”

Milley was named the 39th Army General of the United States on August 14, 2015. The former hockey player dedicated over the last 30 years of his life to the army, serving the country in various capacities. Milley, commanded the Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. (check this), also served in Afghanistan and commanded FORSCOM – the army’s largest command.

Both his parents served in World War II, his mother with the Navy and father with the Marines.

“The other thing from a different angle, not from athletics, but at Princeton they always emphasize critical thinking,” Milley said. “[It’s] not so much what to think, but how to think. And that’s always stayed with me as well. It’s the critical thinking skills that can be applied not only in the military, but in government, in the commercial sector, no matter what walk of life you choose to do.”

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.

Princeton Visits Denna Laing; Will Hold Denna Day Saturday

While Princeton women’s hockey was at Dartmouth and Harvard  two weekends ago, the Tigers visited someone who played for Princeton hockey just a few years ago – Denna Laing.

The Tigers arranged to visit Laing, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury at the Outdoor Women’s Classic in December, before the Boston road trip so the hospital could organize the meeting

“She’s had a fair amount of visitors, which is good for her but they also get tiring so we wanted to make sure we got her at a good time,” Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal said.

The team met Laing, who was a two-year captain at Princeton, at a room in the end of her hospital hallway.

“She came in and had a humungous smile on her face,” Kampersal said. “We had players that had played with Denna for two years and the freshmen and sophomores had not played with her but have met her in alumni functions and so there was some sort of a little awkwardness and a little apprehension of how it would go down.”

Despite the mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces, Laing acted the way she always did.

“Denna, just like she was as a captain, she controlled the room [and] was in great spirits,” Kampersal said. “We had a senior Maddie Peake that was asking her a lot of questions which helped sort of break the ice and then it was just kind of like a free flowing talk.”

While the Tigers were there, Laing was able to show hew former teammates the improvement she’s made over the last month.

“Denna has an amazing attitude, she has an amazing will,” Kampersal. “She just told us at the end of the day there was one machine when she first got there she could hardly move it and then she was kind of moving her arms quickly like four weeks later.

The Tigers will be at home this weekend, ending a seven-game road trip. And now that Princeton is at home, the Tigers will hold “A Day For Denna Laing” during Saturday’s game against St. Lawrence. The Tigers will be selling 14 Strong winter hats, baked goods and chuck a pucks during the game to benefit the Denna Laing Fund.

“Her gains are small but they are gains and so we still pray for her every day,” Kampersal said.

 

NWHL, NCAA Communities Show Support For Denna Laing

The NWHL released a statement on Friday stating that Denna Laing had suffered a “severe spinal cord injury” during the Outdoor Women’s Classic on Dec. 31. To show support, many college hockey teams took to the ice in a “14” formation to support Laing and the number she wore with Princeton.

Those who would like to donate can visit http://www.dennalaing.org/.

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The NWHL is also wearing “24” decals to show support.

Update on Denna Laing’s Condition

Princeton alumnus Denna Laing has suffered a “severe spinal cord injury,” per a release from the NWHL.

Laing’s parents, Jerilyn and Dennis, said Denna has “limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs.”

Those who would like to support Laing or send a message of support can do so at http://www.dennalaing.org/. NWHL teams will wear a “24” decal to support Laing. Many NCAA women’s hockey teams have created “14” formations on the ice to support Laing and the number she wore at Princeton.

GoFundMe Campaign Created For Princeton Alumnus Denna Laing

Update: After surpassing $43,000 the fundraiser was temporarily suspended at the request of the family. 

From the GoFundMe page: 

“At the request of the family this fund is going to be discontinued temporarily. There will be other trust funds set up to support Denna. There will be more information available soon. Thank you for all the support so far.”

A family friend has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses for Princeton alumnus Denna Laing.

Laing was injured during the Outdoor Women’s Classic on Dec. 31 at Gillette Stadium. Laing, who graduated in 2014 was stretchered off the ice and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. There is no update on her condition.

In less than one day, over $22,000 has been raised toward a $50,000 goal. Several members of the women’s hockey community have donated.

Here is an excerpt the GoFundMe page:

“Those who’ve been blessed with the opportunity to get to know Denna, know that she is one of the most caring, hard-working, and selfless people on this planet. She always has and will continue to confront adversity with relentless grit that is unparalleled. Our hope is that, in this time where we know Denna would be the one stepping up for you, you find the little piece of Denna in your heart, to help her and her family through this recovery process.

The money donated to this fund will be allocated to Denna and her family to use towards funding her medical expenses, along with any other expenses that we can help her family with during this hard time. A donation of any size is greatly appreciated.”

This story was originally published on Jan. 6, 2016 and was updated n Jan. 6, 2015 at 8:13 p.m.