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Vol. LXII, No. 50
 
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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BLOCKBUSTER: Princeton University men’s hockey junior defenseman Brad Schroeder, right, goes after the puck in action earlier this season. Schroeder’s skill at blocking pucks has made him one of Princeton’s most valuable defenders.

Sparked by Schroeder’s Pride in Blocking Shots, No. 8 PU Men’s Hockey Ends 1st Half at 10-2

Bill Alden

Most ice hockey players focus on skating like the wind or firing laser-like shots when it comes to fine-tuning their skills.

Brad Schroeder’s forte, though, centers on sacrificing his body for the good of the team.

The 6’3, 195-pound junior defenseman for the Princeton University men’s hockey team stands out at the art of flopping to the ice to block shots.

“It is something I take pride in; something that didn’t really start until last year,” said Schroeder, a native of Drake, Sask.

“I wanted to do something special to help the team win. It is definitely an ability I have developed. You have to time it right. Back in juniors, I broke a couple of fingers doing it but usually I just get minor bumps and bruises.”

Schroeder’s suffocating defensive style helped the Tigers break down Quinnipiac 4-1 last Wednesday as the Tigers rode a three-goal outburst in the second period to end the first half of the season on a high note.

The victory lifted No. 8 Princeton to a 10-2 overall record and was the Tigers’ ninth win in their last 10 games. Princeton has 14 points in ECAC Hockey play with a 7-1 league record, tying it with Cornell for first place.

Topping Quinnipiac not only sent the Tigers into the holiday break with some good cheer, it also got them on track after a disappointing 6-4 loss to Mercyhurst in the championship game of the RPI Tournament.

“We definitely wanted to get a win going into the break,” said Schroeder, who has five assists on the season to go with his numerous blocked shots.

“Even more important than a win was to prove to ourselves that it was just a one-game lapse against Mercyhurst and that we could bounce back and play the way we know we are capable of.”

For Schroeder and the Tigers, playing up their capabilities started with their play in the defensive end.

“Against Mercyhurst we gave up 10 odd-man rushes which is uncharacteristic for us,” said Schroeder, who has helped the Tigers give up an average of just 1.6 goals a game so far this season.

“We definitely clamped down tonight. I think through two periods we had only given up one. It was definitely a focus to clamp down and give them nothing. They are a good offensive team.”

Princeton showed its high-powered offense against Quinnipiac as it exploded for three goals in a 8:44 stretch in the second period after the Bobcats knotted the game at 1-1.

“I think we have proven all year that we can bounce back from situations like that,” asserted Schroeder.

“We’ve been down before. We have let teams back in but we have been mentally tough enough to shut the door after that.”

Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky likes the way Schroeder shuts the door on the Tigers’ foes.

“If you are a hockey connoisseur; you just love Brad Schroeder,” said Gadowsky, noting that Schroeder has brought his teammates to their feet on the bench several times this year with shot blocks.

“He does the little things that make you love hockey and know that it’s a tough game. He excels at everyone of those things.”

Against Quinnipiac, Princeton benefitted from the excellent play of the line of Mike Kramer, Mark Magnowski, and Matt Arhontas, who accounted for all three of Princeton’s second period goals.

“They got it going; what you have there are three quick players who are not only quick with their feet but quick with their minds,” said Gadowsky.

“I think they just had it clicking and the puck was just moving. When they get like that, they are tough to handle. They exploded a little bit; they have been playing well all year.”

Junior forward Magnowski has been playing well for Princeton for three seasons now.

“Mags is one of those guys who is consistent at both ends; he is a guy that constantly seems to chip away,” said Gadowsky of the Winnipeg, Man. native who leads the Tigers in scoring with 11 points on six goals and five assists.

“He is also a guy who always plays well in his own end. He not just consistent offensively; he is a consistent hockey player. When he is paired with guys who can move the puck like Pokey [Arhontas] and Kramer; he certainly fits very well with that.”

Gadowsky certainly wanted to see his team go into its break with a victory. “We have had a decent start but if you lose two in a row, that would negate all of this,” said Gadowsky, whose team isn’t in action again until it hosts No. 14 Minnesota State on December 29.

“The guys really had a goal to finish up strong. I thought, for the most part, they played 60 minutes.”

With Princeton enjoying one of its best stretches in years, Gadowsky hopes the extended layoff won’t cause the team to lose its edge.

“We have a few big injuries and we would love to have guys back,” said Gadowsky, whose team has been without the services of rugged junior forward Cam McIntyre due to injury.

“It’s a double-edged sword. We are playing pretty well right now but at the same time it would be nice to have some depth in our lineup. They are very committed athletes so we don’t expect anything like that.”

In Schroeder’s view, the team’s commitment to conditioning will help it keep on track when it returns to action.

“We would love to keep going; any time you are playing well you want to keep it going,” said Schroeder.

“The rest will always do you good. We have a few bumps and bruises so we will come back even stronger. I think this is where our mental toughness will come in. Everyone is really dedicated to staying in shape and staying focused so I think this will be good for us.”

And with a little rest, Schroeder should be primed to rededicate himself to perfecting the art of blocking shots.

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