PRINCETON, NJ – Colton Phinney was crouched in front of his net, situated on the side of the arena where the old “Make Hobey Proud” sign used to hang, facing the new banners that lined the press box. And on Friday night Phinney did just that – he made Hobey proud by recording his 2,952nd save to break Princeton’s all-time career saves program record.
It was the same side his mother watched from, nervously counting every save. It was the same side where Hobey Baker’s historic skates stood encased in a shrine. It was the same side where the NHL banner of another Princeton goaltender, Mike Condon, was displayed in an archway window. Continue reading Colton Phinney Breaks Program All-Time Saves Record→
Hi everyone, I’m back! At least for a little bit as I breakdown Princeton’s surprise success of the first half and how it will translate to the second half. In this piece I will visit two topics – first I will break down the success Princeton is having, where on the scoresheet it is most reflected. Secondly I will break down where that success is coming from.
This doesn’t mean the blog is back for good, but I would like to post some tidbits on it every now and then – especially because I can still pop into Baker from time to time (like I promised I would.)
Anyway, thanks to Princeton’s SID, Kristy, I have a handy breakdown of Princeton’s first quarter of this season vs. the second quarter of the season as well as the first half of this season compared to the first half of head coach Ron Fogarty’s first season.
Princeton announced its freshman class for the incoming season on June 27. The class of 2020 consists of five forwards and a defenseman.
The class will replace five graduating seniors, which included four forwards and a defenseman. The Tigers are adding an extra forward this season, but they lost two forwards last offseason in Josh Melnick and Connor McLaren.
Joining Princeton this season are forwards Jackson Cressey, Jordan Fogarty, Joey Fallon, Liam Grande and Jeremy Germain. Derek Topatigh is the lone defenseman of the class.
After initially joining the Coquitlam Express for 10 games in 2012-13, Cressey spent the next three full seasons with the Express. He totaled 125 points over 160 games and netted a career-high 70 points over 52 games last season and was named the team’s MVP.
Germain also played in the BCHL, skating for the Chilliwack Chiefs in 2015-16. HE finished the season with 38 points over 56 games. Fogarty spent the last three seasons with the Sarnia Legionnaires of the GOJHL, netting 107 points in 134 games.
Fallon played for the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL last season, recording 22 points in 51 games. In 2014-15, Fallon played for the Gloucester Rangers of the CCHL where he skated with current Tigers Max Veronneau and Ryan Kuffner. Fallon registered 58 points in 61 games that season.
Grande and Topatigh both played in the OJHL. Grande played for Cobourg, the former team of current Tiger Alex Riche, for three full seasons. Over 117 games, Grande netted 103 points. Topatigh, the only defenseman of the incoming class, represented Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge last season. In 2014-15, Toaptigh was named the Ontario Hockey Association’s Top Prospect Defenseman. Through two seasons with the Orangeville Flyers, Topatigh recorded 60 points in 103 games.
Rising junior Eric Robinson was invited to Ottawa’s development camp, the team announced on Monday.
As a sophomore, Robinson appeared in 31 games and scored a career-high seven goals and 11 points. As a freshman he appeared in 27 games and netted four points. Ottawa’s camp, the first Robinson has been invited to, will take place from June 28 to July 4.
Robinson’s older brother, Buddy, played for the Binghamton Senators, Ottawa’s AHL affiliate.
I’m crying as I type this because it’s the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
After three years, I won’t be returning to cover Princeton hockey.
Since the summer of 2013, the beat has been my life. I’ve surrendered my days, nights weekends and more. But I’ve known for a while this isn’t sustainable, and I’ve been living the past two years on borrowed time.
I’ve given everything I had to this and now I have nothing left to give. This year with teaching, covering Big Ten hockey and the CWHL, I had very little time to dedicate to the blog. So as hard as it is, I know it’s the right moment to move on.
I’m really going to miss reporting. During my senior year of college, a professor asked us why we wanted to beat report, and I said it’s because I love being an expert on something. And I do. I love reporting, breaking stories, pressing for interviews, being around the team as much as possible and putting it all together to give people the best insight into the team. I love watching players grow and building relationships, witnessing it all change. Because it does change a lot. And over the last three years, I’ve changed a lot.
But this is difficult because I’m not only saying goodbye to beat reporting – a staple since freshman year of college – but I’m also saying farewell to the community and to my home for the last three years, the one that welcomed me as a scared post-grad dealing with life’s instability. I watched my life capsize several times over the past few years, but this community helped me swim below the waves until I was ready to resurface.
I started the blog in the summer of 2013 as a graduate who, for the first time in four years, didn’t have a beat anymore. With just summer RA duties in a sweltering Warren Towers, I needed something to do. I missed school. I missed reporting.
I had intermittently covered Princeton through my senior year and knew the team received little coverage. I wanted to improve my journalism skills and the team needed a reporter, so I created the blog.
It started that summer populated by a few Q&A’s with the incoming freshmen – Colton Phinney, Quin Pompi, Ryan Siiro, Garrett Skrbich, Ben Foster, Marlon Sabo and Tommy Davis. I later returned home jobless, so covering this team became my job.
I remember my first week on the beat. The fall chill hadn’t permeated the thin walls of Baker yet, leading to nice walks from the small parking garage up the to the rink. But it was tumultuous. The Tigers welcomed Ryerson and brushed aside the Rams in two exhibition games, complete with an Andrew Calof hat trick. But I still came home after the first game and cried. I missed BU hockey so much. I felt so alone.
I knew I had two choices – I could run back to Boston, where it was safe and familiar, or I could believe in myself and push forward. I knew staying at Princeton was the right thing to do.
It’s funny because that was almost three years ago when I cried at the thought of staying. And here I am now, heartbroken at the thought of leaving.
I’ve been so fortunate to continue beat reporting for the past three years. It’s been hard, certainly. I’ve given everything I could to this beat – late nights of transcribing, writing, photo editing, traveling and a lot of money. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wouldn’t give up the weekends spent shivering in the rink, or the bus rides, train travels and road trips to Harvard, Colgate, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth and Penn State. I wouldn’t give up fighting three canceled flights just to get home from Wisconsin for a Tuesday game. I wouldn’t give up staying awake until 3 a.m. to write and edit photos.
I wouldn’t trade being there for Ryan Benitez’s first collegiate appearance. Or Ron Fogarty’s first Division I win. Or the women earning their Ivy League trophy. Or watching a live stream, counting every save, when Colton Phinney broke the program’s single-season record. Or spending over 20 hours at Baker for my last Princeton game coverage, split between three women’s playoff games and the men’s last regular season contests.
I’ve been so lucky not only to see some amazing places and moments but also to meet such amazing people. The SIDs, fans, families, coaches and players have all been so great. They’ve made this so much easier than it could’ve been.
When I first started covering Princeton, I knew nothing about the team. I’d walked into Devils development camp in 2012 to interview Jack Berger and Mike Ambrosia, and back then I didn’t even know that Jack was the captain. I knew little about the team and community, despite growing up at its doorstep.
Four years later, I watched Mike become a co-captain. And I saw Jack’s younger brother, Chase, play for Penn State. I’ve gotten to cover the women’s team and meet the makers of that program’s success. Four years later, the people I knew so little about have become my family.
With college hockey, we’re lucky we see athletes come in as freshmen and grow as players and as people. It’s crazy that the players who jumpstarted my blog will graduate next year. And it’s crazy that the first player who responded to my Q&A request, the first real content on the site, was Ryan Siiro.
He’s the team captain now.
When I first spoke to Ryan and the other players, I wasn’t sure I could cover this team and be so far away from BU. But I’m so glad I stayed, because the past three years of my life have been incredible. The road trips, the crazy games, the memorable moments and the countless stories will always have a special place in my heart. (I still tell people about the night an errant puck ripped into the press box and tore down the Ivy League banner, or when a puck cut Kyle Rankin through his cage and there was a trail of blood on the ice.)
I want to thank the Princeton hockey families for their endless support with the blog and aiding with travel. But I really want to thank them for their encouragement, kind words and for always believing in me.
I want to thank the players for letting me into their home, for handling all my requests and always making themselves available for interviews. I’ve covered some good people here. These people made it easy for me to come to the rink every weekend and they made it a safe space away from the tests of being a woman sports journalist.
I would really like to thank the captains – my go-to interviews – from Jack Berger in 2014 to Mike Ambrosia and Kyle Rankin this year. Not only did they give great quotes, even after tough losses, but they were always so welcoming.
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank the team’s SID, Kristy, and coach, Ron. Without Kristy, none of this would have been possible. She’s one of the best, a fact I learned at my first Princeton hockey game after I gracelessly tripped on the steep stairs that led to the locker room. Kristy instantly asked if I was hurt and offered to have the trainer help.
Ron is one of the best coaches around and an even better person. Since the day he took over, Ron has emphasized the importance of relationships in building a program. They’re the most important things not only in hockey but in life.
All of these people – from the staff, to the coaching staff, to the players, fans and families – made Baker feel like home from my first game in January 2013.
I know this team is in good hands. I know this team is on its way to being a force and I’m only sorry I won’t be there to chronicle it.
Geographically, I’m not sure where life will take me. If I’m still in the area, I’ll sneak into Baker from time to time. If I’m not, I’ll still pay close attention to this program. I haven’t decided the future of the website, but it will definitely stay up and the content archives will still be accessible. There are also some stories and interactives that I’m trying to put up in the offseason.
My goal when I started covering this team was to become a better journalist. I think I’ve accomplished that. But I also hope I’ve become a better person.
So to the wonderful community: please keep in touch! And if there’s anything you ever need, please let me know. I will always consider this place my home.
It’s very hard for me to leave. But I’m excited for my next adventure, whatever that may be.
At my first Princeton senior night, Andrew Calof’s mom asked me how I did it all.
I told her it was love.
And love is what makes it so hard to say goodbye.
But as Winnie The Pooh said: “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
The results for the men’s hockey awards, as voted on by the fans, are in. There were five categories to vote for: Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, Defender of the Year, Unsung Hero and Moment of the Year.
Each category had three nominees. The winners, along with the nominees and percentage of votes each nominee received, are listed below:
Rookie of the Year: Ryan Kuffner (43.5%) Runner ups: Max Veronneau (29.4%), Josh Teves (27.1%)
Kuffner, Veronneau and Teves were integral parts of the team as rookies. Kuffner and Veronneau combined to form a stellar duo, while Teves was one of the team’s best defenders. Kuffner finished with a team-high 20 points and 15 assists, many of which found his linemate Veronneau.
Player of the Year: Colton Phinney (81%) Runner ups: Max Veronneau (14.3%) and Ryan Kuffner
Like last season, Phinney was the team’s best player. He finished with a career-high .924 save percentage, which ranks second in program history. Phinney also surpassed the program record for saves in a single season, all while playing through an injury for the last month of the season.
Defender of the Year: Josh Teves (51.2%) Runner ups: Tommy Davis (24.4%) and Joe Grabowski (24.4%)
Even as a freshman, Teves saw major minutes. The defender added some offense, netting seven points while playing in every game.
Unsung Hero: Ryan Siiro (52.4%) Runner ups: Eric Robinson (26.2%) and Garrett Skrbich (21.4%)
Siiro, who was named the team’s 2016-17 captain, played on the team’s top checking line. He added some offense too, scoring 10 points – fifth on the team.
Moment of the Year: Colton Phinney breaks program season save record (68.6%) Runner ups: Princeton sweeps Yale and Brown on the road (26.7%) and Princeton defeats AIC for fifth win of the season
Phinney broke the season save record after missing his only game of the year with an injury. The goaltender finished with 1,058 saves and is close to breaking the program record for saves in a career.
Ryan Siiro was named the new captain on Saturday night, while Tommy Davis, Garrett Skrbich and Joe Grabowski were tabbed as alternates.
The year-end banquet also featured five awards. Kyle Rankin won the Vaughan Cup for dedication and perseverance, Grabowski won the Tucker Ironman Award, Siiro the 1941 Championship Trophy, Max Veronneau the Hobey Baker Trophy as the team’s rookie of the year and Colton Phinney the Blackwell Trophy as the team’s MVP.
Princeton also honored its four seniors – Mike Ambrosia, Kevin Liss, Kyle Rankin and Michael Zajac.
“He was excellent,” Fogarty said after Phinney’s return. “He looked more flexible. I think the day of rest, we should probably [have done] it sooner.”
Just one night after returning, Phinney broke the program’s all-time single-season save record. The former Delbarton netminder started in 30 games this season and finished with a career-high .924 save percentage.
I usually put together end-of-season awards for Princeton hockey (and I still will), but this season I thought it would be nice to get input from the fans as well. So I have a couple of ballots (one for the men’s team and one for them women) with a couple of options for each award. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Freshman Ryan Kuffner was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team.
Kuffner finished the season with 20 points, the most on the team. He had five goals and 15 assists as he helped boost Princeton’s offense. It’s the most points by a Princeton freshman since Andrew Calof scored 33 as a freshman in 2010-11.
Kuffner spent the season playing mostly with fellow freshmen Max Veronneau and Alex Riche. Veronneau had 11 goals and six assists this year.