Tag Archives: Princeton Hockey Features

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Liam Grande

Liam GrandeFor the past three seasons, Liam Grande skated for the Cobourg Cougars of the OJHL, overlapping with Princeton sophomore Alex Riche. While Grande only appeared in 27 games last season, he averaged over a point per game and recorded 28 points in 27 games. He netted a career-high 59 points last season and finished his career with 126 points.

Eye On The Tigers spoke with Grande to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I chose Princeton University because it was the best fit for me both academically and from a hockey perspective. The academic side of what Princeton has to offer is diverse and impressive. When I visited the campus it was awesome, everything from the grounds to the arena. The hockey program most suited me in terms of coaching and an ability to take my game to the next level.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to starting my university career. I graduated from high school two years ago and have since been playing junior hockey and working so I’m really excited to get back into the classroom and to get on the ice.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I started into hockey when I was about four or five years old but I have been skating since age three. My earliest memory of hockey is playing for the San Jose Sharks in my first year of house league in my home town. From the first time I stepped onto the ice with my hockey stick, I knew I would love the game of hockey. I have never looked back!

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

I grew up rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs for two reasons. First, both my parents loved the Leafs, as well as my grandparents on both sides. I come from a long line of staunch Maple Leafs supporters and growing up that was the only team on the T.V. Saturday night. Secondly, my favourite hockey player of all was Mats Sundin, who was of course captain.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

The biggest challenge I have faced in hockey is dealing with injury that comes hand in hand with playing the game at a high level of intensity. Hockey is a rough sport and undoubtably has gotten rougher as I have moved through more demanding and talented leagues. Dealing with injury from the sideline can be challenging and frustrating, but overcoming these challenges makes you stronger as a hockey player and as a person. Keeping strong and healthy and motivated is at the centre of my game.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

The strangest thing I ever saw while playing hockey was when I was very young with my hockey team in Ottawa for a tournament. We were playing in the quarterfinals and were in the second period when the fire alarm in the building went off. We were all forced outside of the arena and the game was delayed. Ottawa had just had a major ice storm and the parking lot and surrounding grounds were a sheet of ice. We were all in our hockey equipment and skates so we started skating outside for fun. Eventually we were allowed to go back inside to continue to play but the sprinkler system had gone off over the ice surface and had frozen over. In our opponent’s end there was a massive hill of ice right in front of their goalie’s net and it took the arena staff an hour to chip away the ice and prep the surface. From start to finish that game must have lasted 4 hours – the longest game I have ever played. I don’t even remember the final score – I just remember what a crazy afternoon hockey game that was!!!

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

Most influential person in my hockey career? My parents for sure. Neither of my parents played hockey but they both loved watching the game (big Leafs fans remember). Right from an early age they put me in power skating and skill development programs. It hasn’t stopped. They continue to be my biggest supporters in every aspect of my life. The amount of time and money they have invested in not just me but also my two brothers is crazy. They are, hands down, the most influential people in my hockey career. I wouldn’t be were I am now without them.

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

From an early age my life has revolved around hockey and school so it makes sense that one of the greatest experiences I’ve had would be a hockey one. In my midget year we went to the OHF’s (provincial championships) and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Even though we lost in overtime in the finals, it was a great journey for me personally and for a great group of young men who skated beside me. The road getting there was tough. We had a really close team and supportive coaches and parents. Getting the opportunity to play for a provincial championship with all the pressure and excitement was a memorable experience.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

My academic interests are math, finance and science. Right now my plan is to major in economics. There is so much offered at Princeton that I hope to seek out other options as well. The plan is to take advantage of all the school has to offer.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

To win a national championship is the goal. I want to leave Princeton with the jersey in a better place than when I got there.

Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty | Derek Topatigh | Joey Fallon

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Advertisements

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Jackson Cressey

Jackson CresseyAs the captain of the Coquitlam Express last season, Jackson Cressey recorded a career-high 71 points despite missing several games due to injury. He played in 56 contests last season and scored a career-high 34 goals. He finished his career with the Express with 128 points across 198 games.

Eye On The Tigers caught up with Cressey to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I chose Princeton because the opportunity to attend one of the best schools and be a part of a great hockey program has always been a dream of mine and impossible to give up.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to meeting the rest of the guys and opening night against Michigan State.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I got into hockey I believe around three. My earliest hockey memory was my uncle giving me my first road hockey stick

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

Vancouver Canucks as they are my hometown team.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

My biggest challenge was trying to stay positive and be opportunistic when I was struggling to get ice time my first year in junior.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

The strangest thing I’ve ever seen while playing hockey was a bench brawl we had down in Las Vegas during an Atom tournament.

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

My Junior coach Barry Wolff has probably been the most influential. He put a lot of trust and confidence in me [and] gave me the opportunity to attend a school like Princeton

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

Attending game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver was the most exciting experience.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

I plan on majoring in Operations Research and Financial Engineering.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

I hope to be remembered as hard-working and dependable on and off the ice when I leave Princeton.

Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty | Derek Topatigh | Joey Fallon | Jeremy Germain

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Jeremy Germain

Jeremy Germain

Jeremy Germain spent the 2015-16 season with Chilliwack of the BCHL. Through 76 games he posted 48 points. Prior to playing for the Chiefs, Germain played for the CT Wolf Pack after concluding his playing career at Choate Rosemary Hall.

Eye On The Tigers caught up with Germain to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I chose Princeton because it is exceptional in both academics and athletics. I also fell in love with the school after playing in the Lawrenceville Tournament every year with Choate.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to spending a lot of time in probably the most historic rink in the NCAA, and meeting new, exceptional people from all over the world.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I got into hockey when I was around three or four, my earliest memory being a learn to skate practice at the Northford Ice Pavilion near my house.

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

I grew up liking the Blues because of Chris Pronger, but now I don’t really have a favorite team.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

I fractured my leg when I was 13, which took about a year to get back up to game speed and fully recover from.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

There’s a lot but a personal one that comes to mind is when I shot the puck over the net, it hit the glass and came back over the net, hit the goalies back and went in. Also once in mites (about six-eight years old) a kid on the other team skated from his bench and gave our fans the middle finger.

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

I have two big hockey influences in my dad and my grandfather, both of whom were at virtually every practice and game for the first 15 years of my life, and who both played professional hockey, my dad being a defenseman and my grandfather a goalie.

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

When my dad and I visited my sister in Bangkok and got to explore both the city and the Thai countryside.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

I plan on majoring in Economics, but I like History and English as well.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

I hope to leave the hockey program in great shape by the time I graduate and to take advantage of as many of Princeton’s academic opportunities as I can.

Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty | Derek Topatigh | Joey Fallon

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Joey Fallon

Joey FallonJoey Fallon played for the Lone Star Brahmas in the NAHL last season, recording 22 points over 51 games. Prior to joining Lone Star, Fallon skated for the Gloucester Rangers of the CCHL where he played with Princeton’s Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau. That season, Fallon netted 64 points in 67 games.

Eye On The Tigers caught up with Fallon to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I chose Princeton because It gave me the opportunity to receive the best possible education while also having the ability to play hockey at a high level. In addition, the beauty and the history of the campus made the choice an easy one.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to meeting all the guys on the team as well as my seven roommates.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I started playing hockey when I was four years old. My earliest memory is me not being able to skate so I sat on the ice and used my skate as a pickaxe trying to make a hole in the ice.

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

I grew up rooting for the New York Rangers. My dad was always a big fan so I was pretty much born into it.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

The biggest challenge I faced in hockey was being cut from my squirt major team. It became a turning point in my career and it really made me realize that I could not take anything for granted.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

The strangest thing that I have ever been a part of was winning a game in double overtime by shooting the puck from the red line, hitting an opposing defender and deflecting in the net.

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

The person who has had the most influence on my hockey career is my dad. He pushed me hard to be the best player I could be. He has driven me to countless 6 a.m. skates and plans his whole schedule around my hockey games. As far as on the ice, my youth hockey coach, Pat Lafontaine, and my high school coach, Chris Baudo, both did so much to shape the player and person that I am.

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

The most exciting experience I have ever had was going to Quebec City for two weeks for the international peewee tournament. I got to stay with a French billet family while playing kids from all over the world in front of thousands of fans.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

I have always been interested in math, science and history and I plan on majoring in economics.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

I hope my legacy at Princeton will be that I am remembered as a loyal and hard-working person.

Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty | Derek Topatigh

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Derek Topatigh

Derek TopatighDerek Topatigh joins the Tigers after two seasons in the OJHL. The lone defenseman of the class, Topatigh proved he could score while playing for the Orangeville Flyers. Over 113 games, Topatigh netted 67 points. Last season the Ontario native recorded 39 points, a career high. Topatigh represented Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge and scored two points in five games. The defenseman was also named to the CJHL Prospects Game.

Eye On The Tigers spoke with Topatigh to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I come from a family that has always been focused and mindful of academics, so as soon as the chance of coming to a school with a renowned academic history like Princeton and play hockey at the same time became an option, it was a very easy decision for me.

What are you most looking forward to?

To me, the game of hockey has always created the strongest bonds of my life so I am most looking forward to just meeting the rest of the guys on the team and having the chance to work alongside them to have the best possible season this team can have.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I got into hockey at age three and grew up around the game. My first memory was trying to keep up with my two brothers on the local rink and just being ecstatic that I finally had the chance to go on the ice myself.

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

Growing up in the Toronto area, I have always been a big Maple Leafs fan. Even though the team has been mediocre in my lifetime, I have always found the idea of an entire city getting behind the home team extremely fun and exciting.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

Being a defenseman on the shorter side, one thing you get a lot is that your size will prevent you from getting to the next level. To me, I have never found any truth to this argument but it is still something that definitely has been frustrating to hear.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

The most shocking thing to me is always when the glass shatters, as it is just so unexpected. I played in two games throughout my career to date in which someone [got] hit through the glass, and it definitely is not something you get used to seeing.

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

My father has been the biggest influence on my hockey career, just with the support he has given me without wavering over the years. He has constantly been willing to help me get better and improve myself and will hop on the ice or the driveway without a second thought.

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

This season I had the chance to represent my native country of Canada in the World Junior A Championships, and putting on the maple leaf was most definitely an experience that I will never forget in my life.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

I am planning on majoring in economics, and while I know I am interested in the finance and business side of things, I am keeping an open mind and not narrowing down my options too much.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

With a few consecutive losing seasons, I think my biggest aspiration is that our freshman class helps to complete the turnaround of the team and give us a chance to contend for a top spot in the ECAC.

Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Getting To Know the Freshmen Tigers: Jordan Fogarty

Jordan FogartyJordan Fogarty, the son of Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, spent the last three seasons skating with Sarnia of the GOJHL. He finished his career with 114 points over 153 games. In the 2015-16 season, Fogarty netted 45 points in 54 games. He recorded a career-high 47 points in 2014-15.

Eye On The Tigers caught up with Fogarty to see what the incoming freshman had to say:

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Why did you choose Princeton University?

I chose Princeton due to the countless opportunities it provides. I have the opportunity to get the greatest education on earth, play hockey, and create a legacy on and off the ice.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to meeting all the guys and working together towards our athletic and academic goals.

When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?

I was pretty much born into hockey and started skating around the age of two. My earliest memory is scoring my only goal of the season in the mini-mite house league championship game.

What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?

I grew up cheering for the Ottawa Senators since Dany Heatley was my favorite player. When he scored 50 in ’07, I permed my hair so I could look like him.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?

My biggest challenge would have to be my height. I try to use it to my advantage though.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?

In juniors I saw a fan get in a fistfight with an opposing team’s mascot. It was tough to pay attention to the game with a 6-feet tall squirrel throwing uppercuts.

Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?

My parents are easily the most influential people. My dad taught me the game and my mom taught me passion by driving across the country through snow storms for tournaments.

What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?

Opening up my acceptance letter to Princeton. I was full of euphoria and knew all my hard work had paid off.

What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?

I am planning on majoring in economics. I have a broad range of academic interest though.

What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?

I want to be known as the team who created a winning culture at Princeton. I believe we are on the right track to becoming a winning team and everyone is buying in to make that happen.

See also: Princeton announces 2016-17 incoming freshmen

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Kimberly Newell Talks Goaltending

Kimberly Newell fixes her mask

Before the season ended, I caught up with goaltender Kimberly Newell for a feature story. In the interview for the feature, Newell talked a lot about her mental approach and other thoughts on goaltending. I thought Newell provided some great insights and interesting answers, so I’m running a portion of the transcript that deals explicitly with goaltending and her approach.

In it, Newell speaks of her mental improvement, her pregame preparation and the difference in shots she faced this year compared to later years.

Jashvina Shah: I don’t think you’re facing as many shots as you have in seasons past…

Kimberly Newell: “No definitely not (laughs)”

JS: Is it tougher or easier to not face as many shots as you’re used to?

KN: It really depends. There are like a range of different kinds of games that I might face. I think that one thing that has changed is in previous years I can kind of expect that every game I’ll get a lot of shots and they’ll all be relatively dangerous. But this year it depends on the teams that we’re playing, so I think that we’ve really gotten a lot stronger and sometimes we’ll play weaker teams and I won’t get that many shots. That’s a completely different game where, going into that, I need to have a very different mindset where I’m making sure that I’m staying focused for the 60 minutes because I might get a stretch of 10 minutes or so, that’s a long time to go without getting a shot. And I have to make sure that I’m still ready when that next shot [comes].

You can compare that to other games where I’m still getting a decent number of shots but maybe they’re not as dangerous because my team can shut down a lot of the more dangerous plays like the backdoors, maybe they’re clearing the front of the net better, maybe they’re not giving up as many odd-man rushes and things like that. Those games tend to be a little easier for me to play because I don’t need to worry about a lot of those very dangerous situations that I often face against the best teams, which makes my job simple. I just need to make that first save, control the rebound and I can count on my teammates to handle the back.

Then obviously there’s still a few games where we’re facing the top teams in our league and my mindset there is going into this game I’m expecting to get a lot of shots and be very busy, especially in the first period because those teams know they’re good teams and they know how to come out strong in the first few minutes and try and put the pressure on and put teams away. My focus in those games is to really be prepared. As soon as the puck drops, I’m going to be ready because I’m going to be getting all kinds of different situations and my job is to keep my team in the game so that we have a chance to later in the game [to] start to get momentum, especially in the middle of the first and through the second period. I find that once we’re given a little bit of time to adjust to the higher level of play that we actually do really well. I think that over the season, as we’ve kind of discovered this new identity almost of being a good team, we’ve gotten a lot better at not taking that first period to kind of get going against a better team. We’re coming out and we’re ready to go because we know that we can keep up with them, and so we’re not taken off guard as much. I think that kind of summarizes a lot of the different situations and different mindsets I need to have going into all those games that I might be facing.

JS: You were used to one mindset last year … and now you know you have different scenarios … was there an adjustment period for you coming into this season where you realized you’re going to have to have these different mindsets because the team is so different this year?

KN: I think that my previous experience, especially in minor hockey, helped me a lot. When I was still in minor hockey, I was playing at the Burnaby Winter club and we were a very, very good team. We only had one other team in our league that was our big rivals, the Northshore Winter Club. I think that playing on those teams helped me to learn how to play in those games where you’re not getting that many shots, so I have developed various techniques and different methods to keep myself focused. One of the things that I’ll do is during whistle when there’s a break in the play, if I feel myself getting kind of cold or whatever, I’ll always skate out and tap the boards and skate to my net. Or I’ll do a few slides or something like that to make sure that I’m keeping the blood flow and keeping myself warm.

And then after minor hockey I played major midget with the Kootenay Ice. They were the bottom of the league. So I got a lot, a lot of shots. It was really fun but I probably got more shots per game on that team than I did in like my first year here, which is kind of crazy. But I was getting like easily 45 shots. It was a lot and playing on that team really taught me to probably conserve my energy, because you can’t take 50 shots and be going all out the whole time. You have to kind of learn how to manage, basically it’s called crease management. [I learned to] manage my depth so I don’t have to move as far on certain plays where it’s not necessary. You’re cutting out a lot of excessive movement, unnecessary movement and trying to conserve energy that way. But it’s kind of a tricky balance, because sometimes you might get caught off guard if on a certain play you’re reading it as a backdoor or something like that. So you’re kind of backed off a bit, but then the situation changes and now you’re kind of caught off guard a little bit because you’re trying to conserve [energy]. But there’s a bit of a tradeoff between crease management and conserving your energy and your optimal play.

I think a year playing on that team where I got that many shots really helped me to learn how to do that, and so I think I brought some of that here at Princeton too, where obviously first couple years it was a kind of that sort of game. Not as extreme, but it was the same sort of mentality and so coming into this year with a few games a little more like back in minor hockey where I wasn’t getting very many shots, I kind of brought back some of those methods and techniques, dusted them off a little bit and reused them. And so I think that helped me a lot to deal with the different kinds of games that I’ve been facing.

JS: What area of your game do you think has improved the most over your time at Princeton?

KN: Definitely the mental side of the game. I think everyone at this level has mastered all the techniques. Goaltending’s a very technical game and there’s a set number of moves, there’s actually a couple that have been added in recent years that’ve gotten more popular, but the technical side of knowing your angles, knowing your depth and everything, figuring out your style, all the goalies can do that. What really separates goalies at this point is the mental side of the game. I think that my first year I would say that like certain things like having a routine before the game and really preparing myself for the puck drop wasn’t as developed as it is now. I think that I’ve really come to understand myself and how I get ready for games and how I have to be feeling and what I have to be thinking in order to be at peak performance.

Last year, especially this year, I’ve really had a solid routine before games, where everything is designed to prepare a certain thing. Like I’ll juggle before the games to get my hand-eye coordination going. I will visualize shots on the ice at the end of on-ice warmups, I’ll pretend there’s shots and really see the puck going into the glove and go through all the kinds of saves, like high glove, low glove, high blocker, low blocker and just really see the puck hitting me and then going into my glove or off my blocker into the corner, exactly where I want it. I think that having that solid routine has really helped me to control the mental side of the game, because every week’s different. I might be stressed out about school, whatever, or maybe nothing’s going on during the week and I’m super relaxed, but for a game you can’t be too relaxed. [I’ve learned] how to bring myself down if I’m too stressed or learning to bring myself up and get more excited for the game if I’m too relaxed. And so I start every game at the same level which is hopefully the optimal level for me to perform.

JS: Anything else that’s a part of your pregame routine?

KN: Yeah there’s a couple of things. I always tape my stick (laughs). That’s just something to make sure my equipment’s all ready. I’ll check everything, make sure there’s nothing broken or whatever. It’s like a safety thing as well as making sure that when I put my equipment on it’s completely comfortable and natural, feels like second nature when I’m wearing it. And I’ll also juggle a soccer ball with the team. We have like a little soccer juggling group or whatever so we always do that. I find that really helps me to get my legs moving. One of the things that actually, I said that the mental game was one of my biggest improvements, but another thing that I have been working on more physically is being lighter on my feet and more mobile. I find that a lot of times I tend to,

One of the things that actually, I said that the mental game was one of my biggest improvements, but another thing that I have been working on more physically is being lighter on my feet and more mobile. I find that a lot of times I tend to, actually a lot of goalies do this – this is a pretty common mistake is getting down and stuck in your butterfly a lot. It’s very easy to go down early on shots and then get stuck there and not be able to move for rebounds and stuff. And it’s also very energy consuming. That’s one of the focuses where I’m trying to stay on my feet as much as much as possible because you’re faster and more mobile on your feet than on your knees. It’s kind of weird because juggling soccer balls helps me to do that because it helps me with my foot-eye coordination I guess you would call it, but it gets me like on toes and it gets my legs moving. When you’re in your stance, you want to be able to bounce on the balls of your feet. If you can do that, you’ll be able to stand tall in your stance … you can be very mobile and move around quickly in your net. And then after that I do the rest of the warmups with the team and stuff. But I also, in addition to juggling, I also have a little racquetball, actually I don’t know if it’s a racquetball but it’s like a little bouncy ball and this is a pretty common thing that a lot of goalies do, you just bounce it against the wall somewhere and you catch it in your glove hand or your blocker hand and you just work on getting your upper body kind of in the right position, making sure your shoulders are rolled forward and your weight’s forward and your hands are in front of you, you can see it when you catch the puck and stuff. And [I] just working on the motion of catching.

I feel like doing that and the visualization on the ice, the purpose of that is to go through the motions and basically, because sometimes when you practice you don’t get all kinds of different shots, you get like a small sample shots. Like they’ll often go low blocker or something, but you’re not working high glove. So when you go into a game, you find out that your glove is dropped in your stance without you noticing. And so when the shot goes high glove, you can’t get to it because your glove’s too low. So going through these routines helps you to make sure that your gloves are in the right position so that you can make the high glove save and the low glove save, etc etc. It basically builds up confidence that these saves are, I don’t know how to say this, but like they’re strong. Because sometimes you can see in warmups you now goalies are letting in lots of goals in their high glove actually this is funny a lot of the NHL games that I watch … I don’t remember who it was, but they let in a couple goals high glove and it ended up being a goal high glove during the game that won the game for them. But things like that are really important too.

JS: Any additional preparation that you do to study shooters for games?

KN: Well we watch the video but my view on this is that for goaltending, we’ll divide different attacks up. So there’ll be like the backdoor situation, there’ll be like the point shot with screens or tip situations. There’ll be the odd-man rush situation, there’ll be like a walk off the wall situation, there’ll be behind the net situations. And it’s like yes, certain teams will have certain characteristics. Like I know going in against Dartmouth they have a couple girls who love taking hard shots. They like keeping the puck and they like shooting it. So I know that I can be more aggressive and keep my hands up because I know they like shooting the puck high. Or going in against Clarkson, I know they like to have girls in front of the net and they like to screen me and they like to get point shots and they’re big. But I think at the end of the day, all these situations are the same and it doesn’t really matter like who the players are, I’m going to deal with it the same way I know how. It’s like there’s a 2-on-1 situation, I’m going to play that 2-on-1 situation like okay I know there’s a shot through it and I just need to read that player in the moment and not be thinking oh she’s their best player, she’s probably going to shoot it or something or I know this team likes to move the puck around so I think she’s going to pass it. Because then you start to cheat, and when you start to cheat, if they do something different, you can’t readjust. So it’s just basically knowing how to play situations and then reacting in the moment. I think that’s the best way to approach different teams.”

(Note: The questions asked are paraphrased in the transcript and responses have been very minimally edited.)

Stephanie Sucharda Is A Freshman Force For Princeton’s Blue Line

Stephanie Sucharda

Every time freshman defender Steph Sucharda texts associate head coach Cara Morey asking to work on something, Morey drives to Baker Rink to work with Sucharda.

One of the aspects Sucharda and Morey have worked on the most is footwork.

“That’s been amazing,” Sucharda said. “We’ve also worked on shooting a lot and having the confidence to shoot the puck. In practice all the time [head coach] Jeff [Kampersal] and Cara will be yelling at me to shoot the puck more.

“Confidence was sometimes an issue for me so they’ve done a really good job of encouraging me to get the shot off, which is has been really helpful for my game.”

Despite her freshman status, Sucharda has become one of the staples of Princeton’s defense, helping the team reach a program-record 22 wins. Sucharda has played in all 32 games this year.

“She is a great player, she’s very cerebral, she makes really good first passes,” Kampersal said. “I think some of her best hockey’s been of late, like that Game 1 [against] St. Lawrence was phenomenal. Then when Kelsey [Koelzer] went down in Game 3, she stepped up.”

[cointent_lockedcontent]

Depending on her school schedule, Sucharda likes to spend extra time practicing on aspects like her footwork, something. If it’s a break week, she can get an extra two hours on the ice.

“You work on your game and the small things that you individually need to work on because the pratices are more team stuff for sure,” Sucharda said. “So when I’m able to go on with just Cara that’s when I think I make a lot of imrpoements.”

Sucharda is second amongst Princeton freshmen and Princeton defenders in scoring. Her 17 points are sixth amongst freshmen defenders nationally.

“I think she sees the ice really well,” Sucharda’s defensive partner Molly Strabley said. “Coming from the back she makes a lot of great passes and then she knows when to carry the puck as well.”

While Sucharda is known for her breakout passes and controlling the game, the defender has worked on being patient this year and making the right passes.

“At the start of the year I would try to force the play right away. Because I just wanted to pass to my teammates. … Good things happen when it’s on their sticks. But sometimes that would mean that I’m passing it to them in bad situations. So figuring it out that I can slwo the game down and then hit them with a pass to put them in a better situation definitely helped me improve my game,” Sucharda said.

“I’m not the fastest kid out there so I usually like to slow the game down, play it at my level and see the whole ice. And I really like playing here because my teammates are so great at getting open for passes so when I slow the game down they’ll be able to find an open spot [and] I can hit them with the puck.”

Entering the season, Princeton knew they would need Sucharda to step up for a thin defensive core. She’s played with junior Molly Strabley to become one of the team’s dominant defensive pairs.

“She’s been so helpful in giving me little tips and stuff and encouraging me on the bench,” Sucharda said.

Sucharda said her biggest improvement this season has been confidence as she’s transitioned into a big role with the team. The confidence has helped her carry the puck, take more shots and make the right passes.

“She’s really good, she’s a Canadian U18 player,” Kampersal said. “I think that in order for her to get better strength, just being physically stronger maybe a little meaner will help her out. But she’s on the all-rookie team, she’s met all our expectations. We thought she was going to be good coming in here and she was, so we’re really happy that she’s a Tiger.”

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Princeton’s Defensive Improvement Evident

Josh Teves skates away after colliding with Ryan Donato

Back in December, Princeton was skating to a 4-2 win over Yale, completing a sweep at Brown and Yale for the first time since 2007-08. But when the teams met again in February, the Tigers were on the wrong side of a 6-0 loss.

The difference was the team defense.

Getting pinned in their own zone, as happened in the loss to Yale, was reminiscent of the defensive issues Princeton had last year. But that hasn’t been as much of an issue for the Tigers this year, who’ve played much better on the defensive side.

“Our Achilles heel for a year and a half has been getting the puck and turning it over right away,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “And so now the positioning and puck protection’s a lot better in the defensive zone to eliminate that continuous time.

[cointent_lockedcontent]

“And that’s where we were poor against Yale, we gave a lot of the pucks away for second and third opportunities once we established possession.”

The defensive improvements can mostly be seen on the ice. Players aren’t getting out of position and making as many mistakes, and the Tigers don’t get trapped in their zone as much.

But the improvement can be seen on the scoresheet, as the Tigers allow 3.21 goals per game. While the average is still low at 47th in the country, it’s a slight improvement from last season’s average of allowing 3.30 goals per game.

A key to Princeton’s solidified defensive play comes from not getting beaten twice, something Fogarty has emphasized this year.

“[It’s] learning that it’s okay to get beat at certain points,” co-captain Kyle Rankin said. “You’re going to get beat. It’s just making sure you don’t get beat twice. If your man beats you, we have systems in place to make sure that we can recover.

“I think guys have shown a lot more poise in the D zone, [it’s] a lot less frantic. So it’s definitely been good to know that guys understand that when something happens we can avoid it without it being a complete disaster.”

The defensive improvement has also helped the Tigers play in more close games this year, including 14 one-goal losses – excluding empty net goals. Princeton finished with five wins, the most since 2012-13. And while the Tigers finished last in the ECAC, they netted nine league points – also the most since 2012-13.

Having Colton Phinney in net has been helpful. The netminder as a .923 save percentage and has 971 saves this year, a new Princeton single-season record. The challenge for the Tiger defense is to eliminate second and third opponent chances on Phinney.

“I think it’s more [that] the second year guys understand the structure,” co-captain Mike Ambrosia said. “You kind of worry about yourself and where you should be. You know if you make one mistake that there’s going to be a guy behind you to bail you out. Then obviously having Colton back there is great for our confidence.

“We just want to minimize the mistakes and try not to compile the mistakes, because [once we do] we get running around then it’s tough for everybody.”

[/cointent_lockedcontent]

Princeton’s Siiro-Skrbich-Rankin Line Will Be “The Difference”

Kyle Rankin reacts to Garrett Skrbich's goal

After practice on Wednesday ended, Ryan Siiro was the only player left on the ice. Coach Ron Fogarty was there with him, passing pucks from the corner to the slot, where Siiro tried shooting them into this net.

Scoring this weekend will be important for Siiro’s line if the Tigers want to defeat Clarkson.

“That line will be the difference,” Fogarty said. “If they’re playing to what they can do and they can produce, we’ll have a pretty good shot.”

Siiro and his linemates Kyle Rankin and Garrett Skrbich form one of Princeton’s most reliable, defensive lines. They account for almost one-third of the Princeton players who’ve skated in every game this season. And lately, Fogarty has been playing the trio against opposing teams top lines when he can get the matchup.

“You need guys to play consistently, get pucks in, get pucks out, get pucks on net, play defense, penalty kill roles, all the little things on the ice that kind of add up throughout the game,” Skrbich said. “You have to try to lead by example and try to just make all the little plays correctly.”

[cointent_lockedcontent]

The Siiro-Skrbich-Rankin line has been Princeton’s shutdown line. Of all the Tigers who appeared in more than 15 games and Rankin, Skrbich and Siiro do have the team’s highest plus-minus ratings with minus-3, minus-4, minus-5, respectively.

And they’ve done it against the top lines in the ECAC.

“Recently we’ve been trying to shut down the other team’s top line while producing. A lot of times that is us in the offensive zone not letting them play offense, “ Siiro said.

“It comes from working together as a line, a lot of low play, a lot of hard work. You won’t see our line making too many dipsy-doodle plays. [We get] the puck to the net and grinding it out in front which has been nice. [We] also have two guys low and one guy high to reload and keep the pressure on.”

They’re not the team’s highest scorers – that goes to the freshmen Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau – but Siiro, Rankin and Skrbich have contributed 23 points. The line was instrumental in the sweep of Yale and Brown in December, when Siiro had a goal against Brown and two points again Yale – including the game-inning goal. Skrbich had a goal against Yale and the game-winning goal against Brown, while Rankin had two assists against Brown.

“Those three have probably been the best improvements since day one, those three guys collectively as a line,” Fogarty said. “They know where each other are on the ice, they trust each other to do their jobs so the other guy can pay attention to the play away from the puck.”

The season started with just Siiro and Skrbich skating together, but Rankin joined the pair Nov. 20 against St. Lawrence. The three have played together in every game since, except the 4-3 loss to Holy Cross.

“We just have a lot of chemistry together,” Skrbich said. “They’re both great hardworking guys. We really seem to know where each other are on the ice and we’ve just got the line feeling you get with some guys.”

Fogarty said the line’s biggest improvement comes from their play down low.

“Ryan Siiro’s a big strong player and now he’s moving his feet when he gets the puck,” Fogarty said. “Before he was trying to use leverage to get to the net, but [now] he’s moving his feet. Skrbich’s faceoffs have improved and Kyle Rankin’s very consistent and he’s brought his game up to a different level.”

Skrbich has six points this season, a new career high. The Minnesota native has seen an increased role over the last two years after playing in 10 games as a freshman. He’s also taken the most faceoffs on the team and holds a .400 faceoff percentage.

“The role on the team is very consistent player and I think having a lot of young guys on the team we need to work on our consistency,” Skrbich said. “As a team, that’s one of our most vital things and when we’ve won games we’ve played very consistently so I think that’s something I’ve worked on.”

His classmate, Siiro has been in the lineup regularly since his rookie year. While the junior is three points off his career point mark, set last season, he’s been playing better.

“My biggest improvement is just knowing my limitations and knowing what I can do personally,” Siiro said. “[I’m] just trying to get better at what I’m good at, getting better at what I’m not good at and trying to become an all-around good player.”

The line has had its scoring chances but hasn’t registered a point since Sirro’s goal at Union on Feb. 19. Rankin and Skrbich haven’t scored since Feb. 5 at Colgate and the Tigers have scored seven goals in the last seven games since that loss to Colgate.

“I really enjoy playing with them,” Rankin said. “They both work so hard and they’re very smart on the ice. They always make good decisions with the puck. I do feel a lot of games we’ve had a lot of good chances. If you look at the shots on net we’re generating and the responsibility for 200 feet of ice, I’m really happy with a lot of things we’ve done.

“Come playoff time everyone’s got to step up. The team’s going to need some goals from us in the playoffs and we know that and we’re ready to contribute.”

[/cointent_lockedcontent]