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.
The results for the women’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: Karlie Lund (71.2%) Runner ups: Kimiko Marinacci (15.4%), Stephanie Sucharda (13.5%)
Karlie Lund led the Tigers in scoring with 39 points. Lund, along with classmates Stephanie Sucharda and Kimiko Marinacci, started in every game this season. While Lund was a staple on offense, both Sucharda and Marinacci played big roles on the blue line.
Player of the Year: Kimberly Newell (75.7 percent) Runner ups: Kelsey Koelzer (18.7%), Karlie Lund
Newell was one of the top goaltenders in the country. She finished with a career-high .937 save percentage, which is also a single-season program record. Newell backstopped the Tigers to 18 wins and earned a program-record 50th career victory this year.
Defender of the Year: Kelsey Koelzer (63.5 percent) Runner ups: Stephanie Sucharda (25%) and Molly Strabley (11.5%)
Koelzer was one of the best offensive defenders in the country, but her defensive game also improved this year. Koelzer’s 33 points ranked second on the team.
The alternate captain appeared in all 33 games and finished with 22 points, tied for fourth on the team. MacDonald played in 30, while the captain Shanahan appeared in every game.
Moment of the Year: Princeton wins the Ivy League championship (51.5 percent) Runner ups: Tigers qualify for NCAA tournament (36.4%), Princeton wins program-record 21st game (12.1%)
The Tigers captured their second Ivy League title in team history and their first in a decade. Princeton was awarded the Ivy League trophy in its last regular-season game of the year, a win over Union.
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.)
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.
Goaltender Doug Connor is no longer committed to Princeton. The 2000 born netminder was originally committed for the 2018-19 season.
Connor spent the 2015-16 season with the P.A.L Junior Islanders’ U18 team, where he had a .884 save percentage over 15 games. He was also drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 OHL draft by the Kitchener Rangers.
“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.