Here are photos from Princeton’s 4-4 tie with Union on Friday night:
Here are photos from Princeton’s 3-3 tie with RPI on Thursday night:
Here are photos from Princeton’s loss to Quinnipiac on Tuesday:
It’s the holidays, there’s no hockey and just a little bit of a break. But before I take some time off, here’s a Princeton hockey mailbag for the first half of the season.
Definitely faster. The Tigers have actually relied on their freshmen in recent history, and they’ve had many rookies who’ve been thrust into important roles. We saw that last year, with Eric Robinson and David Hallisey contributing on offense and Joe Grabowski earning to-pairing minutes on defense. But none of the freshmen have put up numbers the way Max Veronneau and Ryan Kuffner have.
It usually takes a semster for freshmen to really adjust to the collegiate game, but the two have benefitted from chemstiry created in junior hockey. They’re both skilled players, and so is Alex Riche. I knew they’d contribute and probably lead the team, but I didn’t realize their contributions would be this much.
Then you have Spencer Kryczka, who’s worked his way into the lineup almost every night. He’s more of a physical forward, but has added a few points. And on the back end, Princeton has relied on Josh Teves in a thin defense. While Teves (and all the freshmen) still has room to learn, he’s been a big part of the defense, and has helped offensively.
What are some pre/post game traditions? – Anonymous
I actually don’t have many, and definitely not as many as when I was at Boston University. I still make/bring my coffee with me, something that’s lasted since junior year of college. My favorite pregame tradition has to be walking around the rink. I’ll usually take a lap or two just to look at the old pictures and see if any familiar faces are hanging around. I love having pregame chats with fans and families. Then I usually walk around the benches or the penalty box to get some photos for my gameday Instagram picture.
As far as post-game tradition goes, my favorite is definitely the drive home! It’s the most relaxing part of the day and I usually blast some upbeat music to go with it. After that, I’ll put on some tea, write my post-game stories, edit some photographs and usually watch a horror movie while I’m editing pictures.
The best thing, though, is being at the rink after the game. Nothing compares to the peace of an empty hockey rink.
While Jonathan Liau was one of the offensive leaders last year, he didn’t contribute much statistically to the team this year. While he was still with the team, he actually only missed two games, but put up three points. Liau was arguably one of the faster players on the team, though, and the Tigers lose depth with his departure. It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a void to be filled, though, only because the underclassmen have really bolstered the offense.
What’s your go-to song/artist before a game? – Anonymous
It usually varies, depending on what I’m listening to at the time. I do have a set playlist of songs I listen to, all upbeat tracks. I like Shake It Off, because it’s really applicable to journalism (and the first place I heard it was at Baker Rink!) But I usually listen to Shake It Off on the way home. I like listening to “I Lived” on the way over, because it really calms me down. Defying Gravity from Wicked is also one of my go-to songs before games. The rest are a bunch of Hindi songs 🙂
Princeton doesn’t track advanced stats, although College Hockey News tracks things like Corsi. While I think they would be helpful, they’re not nesecary at the moment (especially because it’s hard to do in college hockey, including player Corsi). There are certain advanced stats I’d like to calculate (if time permits) because I do think they can help tell the story better!
Definitely higher. I knew they would be above 12th, but certainly didn’t predict they’d be tied for seventh. I also didn’t see them beating Yale – that was a huge win. It’s largely been a down or inconsistent year for the ECAC, which has contributed to some wacky standings in the conference. Given the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers hosted a first-round playoff series.
Princeton enters the holiday break with four wins. While it might not seem like much, it’s a big improvement from last season. While the second year under head coach Ron Fogarty has helped, the freshmen have also been an important factor in the team’s improvement.
The Tigers welcomed six freshmen this year – four forwards, a defenseman and a goaltender. Princeton looked to the rookies to contribute early, and especially to add some offense. They’ve done that, contributing 24 of Princeton’s 72 points and nine of the team’s 30 goals.
It’s usually challenging for freshmen to adapt to college hockey. That’s been the case for Princeton’s rookie class, which has committed some mistakes and turnovers. But overall their impact has been more positive than negative, and almost each freshman has seen substantial minutes. That includes power play and penatly killing time. The only freshman who hasn’t played is netminder Austin Shaw, who’s currently third on the goaltending depth chart.
But Max Veronneau, Ryan Kuffner, Alex Riche, Josh Teves and Spencer Kryzcka have all seen regular playing time. Kuffner and Veronneau have stood out statistically and on the ice, with nine and five points, respectively. They each have four goals, while Kuffner’s nine points is tied for the team lead. Kuffner and Veronneau played together in the CCHL, and their chemistry has translated over to Princeton. Several weeks ago, the pair joined with Riche to create an all-freshman line. It’s been one of Princeton’s best lines that’s generated quality scoring chances.
“They don’t know any better. Sometimes being naive is great and they’re naive,” Fogarty said after the loss to the NTDP. “They don’t know what they’re supposed to do. Just go play hockey. It’s great.”
Riche may not have as many points as his counterparts, but his play has improved over the season. You also can’t overlook Kryczka, who’s added a physical presence to the team. Riche has four points, while Kryczka has three. Kuffner, Riche, Veronneau and Teves have all played in all 13 games, while Kryczka has played in nine.
Teves has been an important addition to the blue line. He’s been playing with upperclassman Tommy Davis to create one of the more offensive Princeton pairings. Teves, who has three points this season, has also played on special teams.
Co-Rookies Of The First Half: Max Veronneau and Ryan Kuffner
With so many freshmen stepping up, this was a difficult choice. But the talent and skill of Kuffner and Veronneau have infused some much-needed life into the offense, and their impact is evident both on and off the scoresheet. The first half of the season is usually a learning curve for freshmen, which means the pair should be able to contribute even more next semester.
Here are photos from Princeton’s loss to the NTDP on Saturday:
“Tonight the [boombox] was dead but we I think we do,” goaltender Colton Phinney said. “I can’t tell you exactly what it is because tonight it was dead.”
The two victories gave Princeton four on the season. Although Princeton could’ve had four more, with close games against Colgate, Cornell and Maine.
“It’s pretty frustrating when you’re so close in so many games losing by one goal plus an empty netter and that type of thing, not getting the bounces and what not,” freshman Spencer Kryczka said.
Six of Princeton’s losses this season were one-goal contests, excluding a couple of empty net goals. Princeton was losing, but the team was playing well – and much better than last year.
“Now that we’re starting to see the results, it’s a great feeling and we’re only going to keep going from here,” Kryczka said. It’s just the first step in the rest of the year so hopefully we’ll jut keep on the hot hand here and keep winning games.”
The Tigers have now won three of their last five.
“[It] definitely feels good,” Phinney said. “We’re working hard, so it’s definitely nice to finally get the results. We’ve played well all year [and] now [we’re] getting some bounces so it feels good.”
Princeton’s improvement since Fogarty took over has been evident on the ice over the past year. The Tigers have one of the nation’s best penalty kill coupled with an offense that no longer ranks last in the country.
Now the improvement being reflected in the team’s record.
“You want those tangible results,” Fogarty said. “You put a string together of three straight ECAC wins, the guys get more confident and it’s easier to come to the rink. [It] makes it easier to continue to learn.”
For the second-straight night, Princeton found itself tied 2-2 in the third after relinquishing a two-goal lead. And for the second-straight night, Princeton earned the win.
“You want those tangible results,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. “You put a string together of three straight ECAC wins, the guys get more confident and it’s easier to come to the rink and makes it easier to continue to learn.
With less than four minutes left, Siiro powered the puck past several defenders to give Princeton the permanent lead en route to a 4-2 win. It marked the first time since March 3, 2012. With the win, Princeton swept the weekend – marking the first time since February 2013 the Tigers accomplished the feat.
“It was huge,” Fogarty said. “It’s the first time we swept Brown-Yale since 07-08.”
Siiro finished the game with two points, including an assist on Garrett Skrbich’s game-opening goal.
“[They’re] predictable to each other,” Fogarty said. “The players know where they’re going to be in our structure so they can jump on pucks. Siiro’s goal tonight was a fantastic goal and a great response to Yale tying it up on the power play.”
Skrbich’s goal came less than five minutes into the game, and freshman Spencer Kryczka struck 10 seconds later for his first collegiate tally.
“It was awesome,” Kryczka said. “A big weight lifted off my back. I’m not 100 percent a scorer by any means, but it’s always nice to get the first one out of the way.”
After a scoreless second, Yale scored both its goals in a 2:06 minute span in the third period. John Hayden tied the game on a power play, the only man-advantage tally Princeton allowed on the night.
“We’re playing consistent and we’re playing against good teams and we know they’re going to score goals with opportunities,” Fogarty said. “We just stayed the course and became predictable to each other with our systems and our structure.”
Princeton, which killed off three penalties, has the nation’s fifth-best penalty kill.
“Our PK’s been awesome all year,” Kryczka said. “We [had] four forwards up front that are doing a heck of a job killing and we got all our D working and blocking shots and that’s a big thing. Everyone’s just buying in, so that helps on the PK when everyone’s on the same page.”
Yale outshot Princeton 39-31, and Colton Phinney finished with 37 saves in his 12th career win. He made 10 stops in the third period.
“I just want to stay calm and try to not give up any rebounds and just be confident out there, but the mindset doesn’t really change,” Phinney said.
Princeton, which travels to Penn State next Friday, hasn’t won three games in a row since January 2011.
“We have to enjoy this for a day and get ready for a tough opponent in Penn State,” Fogarty said.
The Tigers continue their road swing this weekend after dropping two games to Maine. Despite the losses there were some positives for the Tigers from the weekend. Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said the team will just continue improving in practice.
“Everything continues, you tweak maybe a faceoff … That’s about it,” Fogarty said.
Here are some more notes from the week:
1. Behind Princeton’s sustainable offense
The Tigers have scored two or more goals over their last three games. That’s not head-turning numbers, but it’s pretty big for a team that’s averaging 1.90 goals per game. The average is more than last season, when the Tigers averaged a country-last 1.30 goals per game.
“It takes time to implement the systems and now guys are playing freely,” Fogarty said. “They know where the other players are on the ice. They’re supporting the puck well, allowing odd-man numbers around the puck in our favor and just moving our feet along the blue line, getting shots to the net.
“There’s a lot of factors that produce goals and the biggest single factor is our play coming back into our defensive zone and then attacking from there.”
2. The freshmen sensations
Fogarty expected Princeton’s freshmen to contribute to the offense, and they’ve done just that. Rookies Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau have been some of the best Tigers on ice, and they’ve now joined with classmate Alex Riche for an all-freshman line.
Kuffner leads the team with seven points (3g, 4a), while Veronneau’s four goals are a team high. Josh Teves, who has received substantial playing time on the back end, leads all Princeton defenders with three points. Riche also has three points while Spencer Kryczka has two, placing all freshmen in the team’s top 10 in scoring.
“They’re contributing in every way possible right now,” Fogarty said.
3. Special teams
Heading into Princeton’s series against Maine, the Tiger penalty kill was first in the country. That dropped to sixth in the country after the losses. But the Tigers are still converting 91.2 percent of their kills and have allowed just three goals on 34 opponent power plays.
Princeton also converted two of five power play chances last weekend. Its power play ranks 51st in the country and now has four man-advantage goals. Three of those goals were scored over the past two weekends.
“We scored on a couple of them and we had a lot of penalty kills, especially [the] second night,” Fogarty said. “We did a great job of that as well. “[I’m] extremely pleased how the special teams have been working over the last three games.”
Here are photos from Princeton’s loss to St. Lawrence on Friday: