Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 50
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
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FAIR VALUE: Princeton University men’s hockey freshman forward Matt Farris waits for the puck last Saturday in Princeton’s 7-2 win over UMass-Lowell. Farris contributed two goals and an assist in the victory as the Tigers won their third straight game and improved to 8-5. Princeton is next in action when it heads up to New England to play in the UConn Hockey Classic on December 29 and 30.

South Dakotan Farris Adjusting to Pace of N.J., Helping PU Men’s Hockey to Weekend Sweep

Bill Alden

Coming from the middle of South Dakota to central New Jersey has been an eye-opening experience for Matt Farris, a freshman forward with the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

“It is a different lifestyle out here; it is the same country but it is a completely different world,” said Farris, a native of Pierre, S.D.

“Everything is just faster out here; the whole society is just more up tempo. Coming from a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere, it is different but it has been a lot of fun.”

In his first 10 games with the Tigers, Farris didn’t have so much fun as he tried to get up to speed with the college game. The 5’10, 185 pound Farris had just one assist over that stretch.

But in Princeton’s last three games, Farris has been in high gear, scoring four goals, including two in a 7-2 win over UMass-Lowell last Saturday as the Tigers improved to 8-5.

“I just had to get used to the style of play that we play and just do the little things,” said Farris. “I had to get back to the basics in the first 10 games; I wasn’t doing the little things as well as I should have been.”

Farris credits his linemates, fellow freshman Andrew Ammon and junior Brody Zuk, with helping to trigger his late surge.

“I think the best thing is playing with the two linemates I have been playing with,” said Farris.

“When you have got Andrew running out there as fast as he is, when the puck is in deep he touches it first. Brody Zuk makes great plays and just makes it simple for everyone on the ice.”

Farris’ linemates helped paved the way for him to start the scoring on Saturday night as he found the back of the net 2:26 into the game.

“Not only was I in a rhythm but I think our whole team was; it wasn’t just me,” said Farris.

“My linemates had a huge role in the first goal I scored. It was all Brody Zuk, he had a great forecheck; he made the d-man cough the puck right up to me. I had the easy part.”

Things came easy for Princeton in the win as 11 different Tigers made the score sheet with either a goal or an assist a night after 12 figured in the scoring in a 5-2 win over Mass-Lowell in the first contest of the two-game set.

“The biggest thing is that everyone came to play tonight and that was huge,” said Farris, who also picked up an assist in the victory.

“It was not just one guy out there doing anything. We had four lines rolling and when four lines come to play every night it makes it easy on everyone.”

In Farris’ view, the team’s scoring output and balance exemplified the style the Tigers want to employ.

“It was a great weekend; it is what Princeton hockey is all about,” added Farris.

“We have been working hard at it for the first half of the year. Coach [Guy] Gadowsky comes into the locker room everyday and preaches play fast, play hard, play physical, and get pucks deep.”

With the Tigers off until they head up to New England to play in the UConn Hockey Classic on December 29 and 30, they were looking to go into the holiday on a high note.

“These are our last two games coming into break and it is huge to get two wins,” said Farris.

“We are feeling good going into break; it is something to build off going into the second half. Any time you can get on a roll like that and sweep a team and send them home with nothing, it is huge.”

Princeton head coach Gadowsky echoed Farris’ sentiments. “It was a good weekend, I thought it was good timing,” said Gadowsky.

“Last weekend we thought we played very well in two games but only had one win. They really wanted to come out and prove to themselves that they could play two good games back-to-back and win two games back-to-back. I think they did a great job.”

A great aspect of the weekend for Gadowsky was his team’s balanced attack.

“It is really nice to see; it is something we have said for a long time, that for us to be successful, that has to be the case,” added Gadowsky, who got two goals apiece from Derrick Pallis and Rob Kleebaum in the victory Saturday with Taylor Fedun notching the other tally.

“We have to get goals from more than one line. Hopefully this weekend was a coming out party for that.”

Gadowsky believes that the last three games have been a coming out party for Farris.

“Matt is so fast; you could see it coming and start to click,” said Gadowsky. “I think that the pace of his decision-making has caught up with his feet. He looks more and more comfortable. He is shooting the puck more now. He is as good coming back as he is going forward.”

With the Tigers having won four of their last five games, including three straight victories, Gadowsky is seeing forward progress.

“I think we have improved by leaps and bounds from the start of the season,” maintained Gadowsky.

“I think if we can keep improving at the rate we are, then we are excited about the rest of the season. If we get complacent and stop improving, then it could be a long road.”

The improvement of Princeton’s large corps of freshmen is exciting to Gadowsky.

“I like what we have seen the last few weekends in terms of how they are playing within our system,” said Gadowsky, who had seven freshmen in the lineup last Saturday.

“They are very good hockey players; the challenge is for them to have success in our system and have everybody playing the same way. I am excited that the young guys seem to be buying into what the upperclassmen have been teaching them.”

Farris, for his part, thinks the Tigers can have a lot of success over the second half of the season.

“I think it is going to be fun to see what we can accomplish; we have got a lot of talent in there,” said Farris.

“But I think the bigger thing is that we have a lot of desire and a lot of guys who really want to work hard and sacrifice for the team. We need 27, 28 guys coming into practice everyday, committed to getting better and coming into the weekend expecting to win. I think if we do the little things right in the second half and stick to our game plan and play Princeton hockey, we’ll be pretty successful.”

And Farris is certainly having fun as he adjusts to his new world.

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