Vol. LXIV, No. 32
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
ROMAN INVASION: Paula Romanchuk skates up the ice in a game this past winter for the Princeton University womens hockey team. Junior forward and Tiger co-captain Romanchuk will be heading north this week to take part in the USA Hockey Womens National Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Paulas Romanchuks father was a hockey star at the University of Wisconsin and she was born in Minnesota.
Despite those ties to major hockey hotbeds, it wasnt until her family headed west that she hit the ice in earnest.
It took a move to California before I started playing the game,
said Romanchuk, a San Jose resident. We moved there when I was about seven and I didnt start playing competitively until I was 14.
Once Romanchuk got bitten by the hockey bug, she quickly established herself as a star. Playing for the San Jose Junior Sharks club team, she scored 96 points during her junior year of high school and then tallied 58 points as a senior.
The Junior Sharks were the only club team in San Jose, said Romanchuk. It allowed me to improve and to be seen by college coaches.
Romanchuk caught the eye of Princeton womens hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal and has become a star for the Tigers.
The 57 forward scored 18 points as a freshman and then contributed 26 points last winter as she earned third-team All-ECAC honors.
This week, Romanchuk is heading north to looking to turn heads as she takes part in the USA Hockey Womens National Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y.
I was surprised to be invited, said Romanchuk, reflecting on her selection for the 22-player camp.
I didnt make the U-18 or U-22 teams. It is a way to get seen and see if I play with the best players.
As she wrapped up her career with the Junior Sharks, Romanchuk didnt know where she stacked up against the best players at the college level.
I started contacting D-I and D-III teams, I was not sure where I would fit in, said Romanchuk.
Since there is no pro hockey for women, the academics are very important. I made visits to Dartmouth, Boston College, Providence, and Princeton. I liked Dartmouth and Princeton the best. It was tough to decide. Dartmouth was a little remote and they had players who didnt suit up for every game. At Princeton, everyone plays and everyone feels like they are a part of the team.
It took some adjustments during her freshman year before Romanchuk started becoming a big part of the Princeton team.
Being on the ice everyday was the biggest difference, said Romanchuk. On the Junior Sharks, we practiced one hour on Wednesday night and on the weekends. There was only one rink in the area so ice time was at a premium. At Princeton, I had to balance training with all the schoolwork.
Bonding with her classmates helped Romanchuk find the proper balance between athletics and academics.
We have a big class. said Romanchuk, whose classmates on the squad include Danielle DiCesare, Ann-Marie Elvin, Julie Johnson, Heather Landry, Charissa Stadnyk, and Rachel Weber. We would all meet up for lunch and we started hanging out together.
A key aspect to Romanchuks productivity in her debut campaign was the connection she developed on the ice with DiCesare.
We see each other on the ice and we started scoring goals, recalled Romanchuk. After half the season, we realized we could do a lot. It was cool to be able to do that.
Coming into last winter, Romanchuk realized she could do even more for the Tigers.
I had played a year and I understood things better, said Romanchuk. In the summer, I focused on my skating and improving my strength. I just played better, it wasnt only the training.
In fact, Romanchuk played so well that she won the programs Elizabeth English Trophy, which is presented annually to the member of the womens hockey team voted by her teammates as the most valuable player.
I was a little surprised; this is a team where we dont have big-name Olympians, said Romanchuk, who was named ECAC Player of the Week in early January after producing a five-point weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth with her father, Ron, in attendance.
I like the fact that everyone has a role; we dont have one player who gets the puck all the time.
While Princeton may be balanced, Romanchuk has emerged as a leader and will be one of the team captains this winter along with senior Laura Martindale.
It is great knowing that the team sees me as a leader, added Romanchuk, reflecting on assuming the captains role.
We are 20 people working together. I do see myself as a leader but we have more leaders than the two people who were elected as captains. We have seniors who are good leaders.
Romanchuk will be using her week in Lake Placid as a springboard into the winter.
I am going out there in the best condition and with the best strength; I am looking at it as a pre-preseason, said Romanchuk.
I am excited for next season. I think people will be working hard. We had five freshmen who had a good year last season. There were things that I saw that could be changed. I can talk to the coaches and the other players.
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